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Florida lawmakers made texting and driving illegal in July of 2019 and in October of 2019 they made hand-held phone use illegal in school and work zones. The law included a “warning period” until January 1, 2020, so enforcement has been lacking since becoming law.
Florida is the 45th state to make cell phone use while driving illegal. I find that interesting since we have the 4th highest accident rate of any state – what took so long?
Here is what you should know about the new laws:
- Hands-Free Mobile Device Policy
If your company is not already using a Hands-Free Mobile Device Policy which has been signed by all your drivers, then your insurance agent/risk manager must still think it is 1980. Email me and I’ll send you a policy.
- Texting While Driving is now a ‘Primary’ Offense
This means that your drivers can and will be pulled over if they are using their phones while driving. It was previously considered a ‘secondary’ offense, meaning they could only be ticketed for using their phone only if they were pulled over for another reason (i.e. not using a blinker).
- The Penalty
A first offense results in a small $30 fine. A second offense is a fine up to $100 and three points on their license. The points are the big issue here. Those points will hurt your insurance underwriting and they could potentially eliminate a driver from being an acceptable driver on your insurance. How valuable is that employee if they cannot drive a vehicle for you?
- Can Drivers Use GPS?
Drivers can still use their phones for GPS, but drivers cannot hold their phone in their hand while driving. Drivers must pull off the road to put in coordinates to their GPS.
- Hands-Free Phone Calls
Drivers may talk on the phone while driving, but again, they cannot hold their phone while driving. Headphones are allowed while driving, but only in one ear.
It is important that you communicate these points to your drivers because their driving habits will affect your cost of insurance and their status as an acceptable driver on your insurance.
At Gulfshore Insurance, we provide insurance and risk management for businesses. We work with more than 10,000 clients throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.
Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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