April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Florida and across the United States. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, nearly 50,000 car accidents in 2017 involved a driver who was in some way distracted from his or her driving duties. Although a lot of media and legislative attention focuses on the use of the electronic devices or texting while driving, distracted driving is anything that diverts a driver's attention from the safe operation of a vehicle.
Drunk drivers present a danger for motorists in the Tampa area and on the roads and highways throughout Florida. Not only is drunk driving responsible for a large number of car accidents each year, it is also the disproportionate cause of a large number of traffic fatalities. Because those on motorcycles are particularly exposed to road hazards, and are on smaller, lighter vehicles, drunk drivers are especially dangerous to motorcyclists.
Thanks to legislation championed by Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, autonomous - self-driving - vehicles are legal in Florida. While they may eventually be a boon, particularly for older drivers, several high-profile car accidents have called their safety in question. Although state lawmakers and auto manufacturers are doing what they can to make such vehicles safer for travel on public roads, the types of accidents in which these vehicles have been involved call into question their readiness for public use.
In the context of a car accident, in order to say that a negligent driver caused the crash and should be held responsible, a plaintiff, the accident victim, must show five distinct things.
In spite of the Florida Legislature's attempts to beef up laws against using electronic devices behind the wheel and make enforcement easier, distracted drivers continue to plague the Sunshine State's streets, roads and highways. The scourge of distracted driving results in car accidents, as well as other types of crashes, causing serious injury, and even death. One of the things that makes distracted driving difficult to police is that it is not always related to the use of mobile devices.
It seems, unfortunately, that motorcyclists are in constant peril on Florida's roads, streets and highways. It is not that motorcycles are themselves inherently dangerous. Rather, many of the motorcycle accidents in the state are caused by the negligence or inattentiveness of other motorists.
In Florida, it is illegal to text, email or instant message while driving - anything that requires entering or reading multiple characters on a handheld electronic device. Violation of the law is considered a non-criminal traffic infraction that is punishable by a fine. Law enforcement officers cannot stop a driver for suspected texting. Rather, it is a secondary offense for which a driver can be ticketed only if stopped for another violation, such as speeding or running a stoplight.
More than 16 million drivers occupy the roads, streets and highways in Florida. According to Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), there were nearly 400,000 auto accidents in the Sunshine State last year. These crashes resulted in almost a quarter million injuries and more than 2,900 deaths. Statistics such as these are sobering: You never know what you will encounter when you put the keys in the ignition and pull out of your driveway.
In the state of Florida, there are two types of damages considered by the courts in a claim. They are economic damages, and non-economic damages. There are general caps on compensation awarded by a court for these types of claims.
In July, 2014, the rate of hit and run accidents in the state of Florida had increased by such a percentage that Florida Highway Patrol launched the "Stay at the Scene" campaign to educate drivers on their responsibilities in the event of a car accident. In conjunction with that campaign, the penalties for hit and run drivers also changed on July 1, 2014, becoming what is now known as the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. This can be found as part of the Florida Statutes.