Florida To Ban Texting While Driving

Florida To Ban Texting While Driving

Florida may finally be joining the 39 other states with bans on texting while driving. Florida lawmakers inched closer to a statewide ban on texting and driving last Wednesday, when the House Economics Affair Committee cleared bill HB 13 by a 16-1 vote to make texting while driving a secondary offense. The House Bill is scheduled to go to the floor while SB 52, a companion bill, moves toward the full Senate.HB 13 includes a ban on the manual typing of texts and reading of texts while driving. The talk-to-text feature on smart phones is excluded from the language of the bill, and texting at a stop sign or red light would still be legal. In this version of the bill, police officers must stop drivers for a primary offense such as speeding or running a red light to cite drivers for texting while driving.If the bill is passed, a driver’s first violation will incur a $30 fine and court costs. Subsequent violations within five years of the first offense will add three points to the driver’s license and a $60 fine. Six points will be added if texting causes a crash. Driving in a school zone will incur additional penalties.

All forms of distractions while driving have potential deleterious effects on drivers, passengers and pedestrians, but texting by far is the worst because it requires one’s manual, visual and mental attention simultaneously. In the Governor’s Highway Safety Association’s 2011 report, “Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do,” at least one driver was reported as distracted in 15 to 30 percent of crashes. Texting was found to increase the risk of crashing more than other cellphone use; in fact, text messaging has been found to increase the risk of crashing 23 times when compared with driving without distractions.

Other disturbing statistics that support a ban for driving while texting include:

  • Forty percent of teens have been in a car when a driver used a cellphone in a dangerous manner.
  • Twenty-six percent of teens of driving age have texted while driving.
  • Forty-eight percent of all teens ages 12 to 17 have experienced drivers texting behind the wheel.
  • Text messaging distracts a driver’s attention from the road an average of 4.6 seconds; if driving at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind.
  • Driving while using a cellphone reduces brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

Read the text of the bills here:

Read House Bill 13

Read Senate Bill 52