Florida Bill Cracks Down on Distracted Driving for Truckers

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Sponsored by Reps. Slosberg (D), Campbell (D) and Raburn (R), the Florida House of Representatives brought to life the “Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle bill,” or HB 7125. The bill explains how consequences for distracted driving will be handled not only for everyday drivers, but for commercial truckers as well.

The bill was accepted by the Florida House of Representatives on May 2 and is slated to go into effect July 1, 2013. The bill details and clarifies many laws that affect the everyday Florida motorist. More importantly though, it sets limits and penalties regarding many facets of commercial transportation in the state including, but not limited to, distracted driving.

A survey conducted by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Distracted Driver research states that 83 percent of drivers consider distracted driving to be a “serious or extremely serious problem.” This is an interesting point considering the fact that “four out of 10 Americans (38 percent) say they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone,” according to Nationwide, an insurance company.

Some Floridians may consider this to be a repeat of former legislation titled SB 52, which made texting while driving a secondary offense. However, HB 7125 now makes the violation a primary offense. Not restricted by the bill is the use of a Bluetooth device and other devices such as GPS systems. All the same, it is still very stringent legislation.

Effects of the New Driving Law

So, who does this law actually affect? Loosely speaking, it can benefit all drivers on the road. However, it specifically states that, “All owners and drivers of commercial motor vehicles that are engaged in intrastate commerce are subject to the rules and regulations.” That means that truckers on the road are subject to this bill as well and must refrain from driving and using their phones like other drivers on the road.

Language in the bill also states that if a person violates the provisions of the bill and refuses to pay the penalties associated with that violation, the penalty can become a lien on all properties including motor vehicles.

Penalties for Cell Phone Use While Driving

Truckers caught texting or talking on handheld devices will face a penalty of:

  • 1st violation: $500
  • 2nd violation: $1,000 + 60 day Commercial Driver’s Licence (CDL) disqualification
  • 3rd or subsequent violations: $2,750 + 120 CDL disqualification

Possible Fines for Auto Transport Companies

Companies that don’t comply with the new rules face fines ranging from $2,750 for the first violation and up to $11,000 for the third and subsequent violations. This provision seeks to hold the employers of truck drivers accountable for the driver’s actions, which is very important when discussing car moving companies like Montway and the like.

Under this new bill there are also provisions for weight dimension violations. The maximum fine for the first 600 pounds of unlawful axle weight is $10 + .05 per pound. Weight is a large factor in how much to ship a car and if truckers are going over their weight they can be penalized harshly under this law.

Furthermore, if you ship a car and place undocumented personal items inside of it you may be putting the trucker at risk. HB 7125 fully explains penalties for driving citations and gives law enforcement agents everything they’ll need to help enforce the laws, including a $700,000 appropriation of funds.

So, truckers beware and leave the cell phone use for the rest stop.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Mike “Dakinewavamon” Kline

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