The new law makes ‘texting while driving’ a primary offense; Bans handheld phone usage in active construction and school zones

17 May 2019

TAMPA, Fla., – AAA applauds Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for signing the bill that strengthens the law against distracted driving. Beginning July 1, law enforcement officers will have the authority to stop a vehicle solely for texting-while-driving, or using a handheld device while driving in active construction and school zones.

“Texting while driving is a dangerous habit that puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “For the past decade, AAA has advocated for stronger laws against texting while driving, and applauds Florida lawmakers for passing this bill. Enforcement will be critical in the effectiveness of the new law. AAA hopes this bill will force drivers to change their habits, as they did when Florida strengthened its law on seat belts.”

In 2009, Florida made it a primary offense for a driver to not wear their seat belt. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that this resulted in more Florida drivers wearing their seat belts. According to NHTSA data, the usage rate of seat belts increased from 81.7 percent (before the bill) to 87.4 percent in 2010, and 90.2 percent in 2017.

Drivers Who Text are 8x More Likely to be Involved in a Crash

  • According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were more than 51,000 distracted driver-related traffic crashes in Florida last year. 
  • AAA research shows that people who text and drive are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash. The odds are twice as bad as talking on a handheld device. 
  • Five seconds is the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting. At 55 mph, that would be the equivalent of driving the length of a football field, blind.
  • A recent AAA study found that 78 percent of Americans say texting while driving is a significant danger; 35 percent admitted to doing it. 

Additional Details about the Law

Florida is the 45th state to enact a primary enforcement text messaging ban for all drivers. Enforcement will begin July 1, 2019. The new law does not change the existing penalties associated with texting and driving. The first violation of the ban is a non-moving violation, carrying a $30 base fine plus court costs and fees. A second or subsequent violation committed within five years is a moving violation, carrying a $60 base fine plus court costs and fees.

About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.

Contact(s)

Mark Jenkins
Email: majenkins@aaasouth.com
Phone: (813) 288-7906
Cell Phone: (850) 532-0730