Will Florida Pass A Law Banning Texting While Driving?
Florida personal injury lawyers are cautioning that drivers of all ages are likely to cause a serious or fatal automobile accident due to being distracted behind the wheel. Motor vehicle accidents rank among the leading causes of death in the United States. The Transportation Safety Group at the National Safety Council found that distracted drivers account for nearly 80 percent of car crashes. Studies have shown that drivers using cell phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers and is equivalent to that of someone with a .08 blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are considered to be legally intoxicated in the State of Florida. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a study, based on researchers' observations of drivers, suggesting that at any time during daylight hours in 2007, 11 percent — or 1.8 million drivers — were using a cellphone. According to Troy Green, a national spokesman for AAA, for every two seconds a driver's eyes are off the road, a motorist is twice as likely to be involved in a crash. On January 3, 2008, two people were killed when a trucker reportedly distracted by text-messaging on his cell phone crashed into their car along U.S. 27 in Florida.
People continue to increasingly use phones, navigation devices and even computers to turn their vehicles in mobile offices, and entertainment centers, making roads more dangerous. As technology continues to advance, concern over roadway safety is mounting. Cell phones today are capable of surfing the internet, checking email, as well as writing and receiving text messages. The makers of these electronic devices and automobile companies acknowledge the risks of multitasking behind the wheel, yet aggressively develop and market gadgets that cause distractions.
Despite the overwhelming statistics and acknowledged dangers of distracted driving, Florida remains one of many states that does not ban the use of cell phones or text messaging while driving. What is most alarming is that the attempts to ban texting while driving has been met with opposition. The Florida Legislature failed to get the issue out of committee in this year's session. The amazing thing about the debate over the need for laws to ban texting while driving is that there is a debate at all. In response to the Florida's Legislature failure to act on this very important issue, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, has launched its "Stay Alive…Just Drive!" campaign in the hopes of educating Florida residents on the dangers of distracted driving. Nevertheless, so long as Florida Legislature feels that they can simply ignore this pressing issue, it is safe to assume and even expect that more and more accidents will occur across the State of Florida as a result of distracted driving. It is time for Florida Legislature to act on this critical issue.