5 Worst Counties for Distracted Driving in Florida
1. Wakulla County
Wakulla County, located just south of Tallahassee, ranks as the worst county in Florida for distracted driving. In 2017, there were 120 distracted driving-related crashes per 1,000 registered vehicles—which is 45% greater than the Florida average of 83.
2. Walton County
In the heart of the Florida panhandle, Walton County boasts Britton Hill, the highest point in Florida. In 2017, the number of fatalities that resulted from a distracted driving crash in Walton County matched the number in Sarasota County, which has nearly six times the population.
3. Orange County
Orange County is home to the city of Orlando and its many theme parks—which include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando. In 2017, Orange County had the most fatalities that resulted from distracting driving crashes of any county in Florida. Furthermore, Orange County also had the highest rate of distracted driving crashes relative to its number of registered vehicles.
4. Okaloosa County
Okaloosa County is located in northwestern Florida and shares a border with Walton County, which ranked as the second-worst county in Florida for distracted driving. In 2017, there was just one citation issued in Okaloosa County for distracted driving, despite more than 1,000 crashes involving a distracted driver.
5. Duval County
Home to the city of Jacksonville, the largest municipality in Florida, Duval County is the seventh-largest county in the state in terms of population. In 2017, 132 incapacitating injuries resulted from distracted driving crashes. That's more than in Miami-Dade County—which has nearly three times as many residents.
Distracted Driving Laws in Florida
Distracted driving laws in Florida are relatively lax compared to the rest of the country. It is not illegal to talk on a cellphone and drive, as it is now in many states. Furthermore, texting and driving is only a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement officials cannot pull you over for texting and driving alone. Because of this, police can only issue you a texting and driving citations if you are pulled over for a primary offense (such as speeding) and happen to be texting as well. Wearing headphones is considered distracted driving and is enforceable as a primary offense, though—meaning you can get pulled over for this violation.
In contrast, California has some of the most strict distracted driving laws in the nation. Drivers can't hold and operate a cellphone unless they're using voice activation or a hands-free device. Additionally, hand-held cellphone use—both for texting and making phone calls—is treating as a primary offense in California, allowing law enforcement to enforce distracted driving laws to a greater extent than law enforcement in Florida.
Consequences for Texting and Driving in Florida
Your first texting and driving citation will come with a fee of $30. While this fee might seem low, your car insurance rates may increase once the violation appears on your motor vehicle record.
If you get subsequent texting and driving violations within five years, the fine increases to $60 and it's treated as a moving violation. That results in three points on your driver's license. Additionally, you can get six points if you are in a crash that results from using your cellphone. If you're pulled over for a primary offense in a school zone and you're also cited for texting and driving, then you may get two points on your license.
Complete List of Counties in Florida and Their Distracted Driving Rankings
|County||Crashes per 1,000 registered vehicles||Citations issued per 100 crashes||Score|
|25 (tie)||St. Johns||70||0.67||62.0|
|60 (tie)||Santa Rosa||44||16.72||21.0|
To compare distracted driving across counties in Florida, we collected 2017 distracted driver crash and citation data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. We determined our ranking based off of two criteria weighted equally: the rate of distracted driving crashes per registered vehicles and the ratio of distracted driver citations issued to distracted driving crashes.