New Florida Texting Ban Can Impact Car Insurance Rates

Don’t tempt fate. That text can wait.

One text or call could wreck it all.

Stop the texts. Stop the wrecks.

Whichever rhyme is used, traffic safety advocates are trying them all to get motorists to heed the dangers of distracted driving. But in the case of Florida’s texting ban, drivers have a reason beyond safety to stow the phone while driving: the possibility of higher Florida car insurance rates.

On Tuesday, the Sunshine State became the 41st state in the U.S. to bar all of its drivers from texting behind the wheel.

Insurance industry groups are applauding the Legislature for passing the newly effective law, which had already seen strong backing from lawmakers when it passed the state Legislature in May.

“While this is just one solution to help prevent auto accidents, it is another step towards making the roads a little safer for the drivers here in Florida,” Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said in a statement.

Although an initial citation under Florida’s law against texting-while-driving is not a moving violation and only results in a fine, subsequent offenses (within five years) are moving violations that charge three points to a driver’s license.

The three-point penalty that comes with a second violation of the texting ban puts it on par with speeding up to 15 mph over the limit.

“Drivers who break traffic laws get ticketed for things like speeding, running red lights and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—and now texting while driving is also illegal,” Lynne McChristian, the Florida Representative for the Insurance Information Institute (III), said in a statement. “Traffic tickets eventually show up on a driving record as a signal of a risky driver, and those drivers pay more for insurance.”

Additionally, drivers repeatedly cited for texting while driving can eventually collect so many points that they get their license suspended.

The law is considered a secondary offense, meaning that a driver can only be cited for it in addition to another violation.

The III also said that enforcing the violation as a secondary offense could mean drivers get two tickets in one traffic stop: “one for the first offense and another for texting.”

“Thinking ahead about the financial consequences may be added incentive for drivers to put the phone down and keep both eyes on the road,” McChristian said.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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