UPDATE: NEW LAW GOES INTO EFFECT EARLIER THAN PREDICTED.
Starting Tuesday, October 2nd, 2019 it’s against the law to hold a cellphone while driving near a school or through a construction zone in Florida. This includes scrolling through feeds and holding phone to an ear. Police are starting to pull over motorists, but won’t issue tickets until January 1st.
If you are about to drive in Florida, be warned that there’s a new law already enforced in town.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill allowing law enforcement to stop drivers who are caught texting and driving in Florida.
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Compared to other states, Florida is one of the last few states that signed the bill against distracted driving.
In 2016, Florida reported about 50,000 crashes associated with distracted driving resulting in 23 deaths, according to DeSantis.
Law enforcement agents will pull over drivers who hold their phone while driving in school and construction zones starting Oct. 31st.
And there will be a fixed education period to help authorities raise awareness against these new violations until January 1st.
For your own benefit, we grouped 9 questions you need to know about the new texting and driving law in Florida.
#1 How many warnings can I accumulate during the education period?
During the transition period, you could receive several warnings for texting while driving, but that’s about it.
Those warning won’t affect your driving record, but you should learn from those mistakes and put your phone down for your own safety.
#2 Can I hold my phone to chat while driving?
Florida drivers are allowed to hold their phones while on the road, but it is not recommended for safety reasons.
However, a FL driver won’t be allowed to hold a wireless device while driving in a school zone or an active work zone with workers in duty starting Oct. 1st.
#3 Can I answer a call while on the road?
You are allowed to answer the phone while on the road. But if you are driving in school or construction zones, you can just accept the call and not hold the phone to engage in a conversation.
We recommend using a hand-free device to talk while keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
Importantly, if you are using a hand-free device, you are required to keep at least one ear without an ear bud.
#4 Can I send a text while sitting at a red light?
A police officer cannot stop you for sending a text while sitting at a red light or toll booth. The new law targets those vehicles in motion.
However, you could be stopped by a cop if caught blocking traffic owing to distracted driving. For a safer experience, you should send a text once you reached your destination.
#5 Can ride-sharing drivers use their phone to locate customers while driving?
The new law allows ride-sharing drivers to use their phones or other GPS-tracking devices to locate their clients.
But there’s no need to put yourself at risk when you can use the verbal device features to access directions.
#6 Can I use my phone camera while driving?
While law enforcement refers to other drivers’ videos for further evidence, it is advisable to be aware of the impact of such practice.
No matter what you use your phone for, these devices pose a huge distraction and risk for others.
You could consider getting a camera for your vehicle rather than reaching your phone which is distracting.
#7 Can I use Google on my phone or any other app to map my route?
Yes. You can use your phone to access Google maps or any other app that helps you track your journey.
#8 Can I eat or drink while driving in Florida?
A law enforcement agent cannot pull you over for eating, drinking, and applying makeup while driving.
However, if those habits lead to a traffic infraction, a cop could pull you over and charge you for it accordingly.
#9 How can law enforcement prove you were texting?
Certainly, police officers cannot ask you to give them your phone to verify whether you were texting while driving.
But they’ve been trained to identify those drivers who engage in distracted driving, including texting or talking while driving.
While distracted driving is a road safety issue today, do you think this new law will help us make Florida roads safer?