According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers who text are not looking at the road for 4.6 of every six seconds. In 4.6 seconds, a whole range of changes can take place on the road, including unexpected lane changes, jaywalking pedestrians, dashing squirrels or even sudden road bends and potholes. Additional studies by the University of Utah and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have examined the risks associated with texting while driving and the results are unequivocal: texting while driving is extremely dangerous.And many legislative bodies across the United States have agreed. As texting while driving becomes more common, states have attempted to curb the activity by enacting texting bans. To date, 14 states have passed anti-texting bans. Even the federal government, which recently passed a law prohibiting government employees from texting while driving on the job, is considering passing a broader bill to prevent the practice.Florida, however, has yet to follow suit. While eight different bills were passed in the Florida House in 2008, none of these bills successfully passed in the Senate. In 2010, Florida legislators have already introduced multiple anti-texting bills, some of which are broader than others. SB 374 and 324 seek to prohibit text messaging while driving, while SB 244 (also known as Heather’s Law) would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones without hands-free devices while driving altogether. Other proposed bills – SB 522 and SB 592 – are narrower in scope and seek only to prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from texting while driving.
While it is unclear whether the Florida legislature will soon pass any of these proposed legislation, it is obvious that the need is great. Even Florida Governor Charlie Crist has spoken out against texting while driving and supports a ban. Now all advocates can do is hope that when the right bill comes along, the legislature will not dawdle any longer.