Put It Down: Focus on Driving – What You Need to Know About the New Law

I’m not sure when it happened, but over the last five years, I have become obsessed with my phone. It had gotten so bad that it became a huge distraction for me while I was driving. My phone was constantly in my hand. In trying to be ‘safe’ I would only look at it during stop lights or during rush hour traffic, so I wasn’t texting while driving. I would browse the different social media sites, look at pictures, send short text messages. I was the poster child for distracted driving.

One day while on the highway, I was sending a quick text message and I ‘accidentally’ veered off of my lane and into the next lane. By the grace of God, no other car was next to me and I avoided what could have been a fatal car accident. This was a very scary realization for me as I had all three of my kids in the car with me. Was that text message really that important? No, it wasn’t. So I have been taking steps to become more focused while driving.

Put It Down: Focus on Driving – No Texting While Driving

Beginning July 1, 2019, the #PutItDown campaign is in full effect. Put it Down: Focus on Driving campaign is being led by the Florida Department of Highways Safety and Motor Vehicles who is partnering up with the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida law enforcement. The campaign’s main goal is to educate Florida drivers of the new Wireless Communication While Driving Law. This new law states that a driver is not allowed to operate a moving vehicle while using their handheld devices. As this is now a primary offense, officers can now cite you without the need of having another violation. Here are six things you need to know about the new law.

Important Facts About the No Texting While Driving New Law

  • As of July 1, 2019, Florida motorists can be stopped and cited for using handheld devices while operating a moving vehicle. In an effort to educate drivers, officers will be issuing warnings through December 31, 2019.
  • Tablet, cellphone, laptop, two-way messaging device, or any electronic game that can be used in a handheld manner are included in the law.
  • The first violation for drivers is a non-moving offense with no points assessed to the driver’s record. The second violation is a moving violation with three points assessed to the driver’s record.
  • Starting October 1, 2019, wireless communication devices can only be used in a hands-free manner when driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area. There will be no exception to this rule. The penalty for this offense is a moving traffic violation, with a base $60 fine, not including court costs and other fees, and 3 points assessed against the driver license.
  • If your car is not moving, this law does not apply to you. So if you are parked, stuck in non-moving traffic and even at a stoplight, you are not subject to the law.
  • There are exceptions to this law. Some exceptions are if you are using your navigation system, receiving weather alerts and traffic alerts. You can find the other exceptions here.

Some ways to avoid texting while driving

Staying off of our phones can be pretty difficult. Here are a few things you can do to help you remain hands-free and less distracted and #putitdown.

  • Buy some hands-free devices such as blue tooth ear plugs, speakers and car mounts.
  • Put on your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’. When you receive a text message, your phone will send an automatic text back letting the person know that you are currently driving and will respond to them once you’ve stopped driving.
  • Use the speech to text feature that your phone offers.
  • If your car has up to date features, use those instead of your phone. Most cars built within the last 10 years have Bluetooth connection, a navigation system, and a phone system. You can connect your phone to utilize these features to ensure that you are being safe and not as distracted.

What are some other things you do to stay off your phones and focused on driving, #putitdown?

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