Imagine it’s 5:15 P.M., and after a long Monday of chugging coffee and meetings with the boss, you are trapped in a bumper-to-bumper herd of traffic inching slowly along Gainesville’s notoriously congested Newberry Road. As traffic slows to a stop, take a look out the window and examine the other drivers you share the road with: What are they doing?
If your scenario is anything like my last agonizing trip through the worst of Gainesville’s traffic, you will likely see numerous drivers picking up and scrolling through their smartphones while waiting for the blockade in front of them to clear. Whether texting a friend, returning a call, or checking the latest news update or Twitter posts, these drivers may in the future be stopped by law enforcement and subject to a cellphone search by the newest technology in the fight against “texting and driving,” The Textalyzer.
Similar to how a breathalyzer detects and measures the recent alcohol consumption of a driver, the Textalyzer can plug into a phone and describe in detail its recent activity. Lawmakers in New York and numerous other cities have been seriously considering whether or not to enable law enforcement to use these devices to crack into phones. As National Public Radio (NPR) reports, these legislators are basing their decisions on the belief that “too many people get away with texting and driving and causing crashes.”
After helping numerous North Florida residents injured due to automobile accidents caused by cellular distractions, Glassman & Zissimopulos Law certainly understands the desire to keep roads safe from traffic crashes and accidents caused by distracted driving and texting. There are also some fundamental privacy rights that are implicated with these proposals as well.
While the “Textalyzer” may be around the corner, Nick Zissimopulos and Daniel Glassman understand the importance of keeping our clients up-to-date with possible future legislation and currently enforced laws. Florida Chapter 316.305 mandates that “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols…or reading data on such a device for nonvoice interpersonal communication.”
While this restricts motorists from using their phones while driving, the Florida texting law explicitly states that any motor vehicle that is stationary is excluded from the above mandate. Notably, Florida’s current texting law is also a secondary law, which means that an officer cannot stop a person who is texting to issue a citation unless the person is also committing another offense like speeding or not wearing a seat belt.
What does this mean for you? Well, in your imaginary (and my very, very real) bumper-to-bumper traffic experience on Newberry Road, those drivers who are fiddling with their cellphones at a complete stop are actually totally in compliance with Florida’s “texting and driving” laws. As of now, the Textalyzer hasn’t been considered in Florida. As it has in other states, if and when this proposal comes to Florida, there will be a robust debate about the balance between safety and privacy.
While Florida’s cellphone and driving laws are rapidly evolving to be more strict and safe, at Glassman & Zissimopulos, we know that even the most careful drivers can be injured in a crash caused by a cellphone-distracted motorist. To support our extended Gainesville and Gator family, Glassman & Zissimopulos Law has assembled a team that is dedicated to helping our clients seek full and fair recovery for damages they have suffered from a motorist who chooses to text and drive.