It’s about time. Thanks to Florida’s slow acting Legislature we will soon finally become the 40th state to ban texting and emailing while driving. In light of the number of deadly car accidents in Florida, I don’t understand what took so long. SB 52, also known as the bill that “Bans Texting While Driving,” will subject Florida drivers to a non-moving violation if found guilty of texting and driving for a first time offense. Those who are caught texting and driving a second time within a five-year period will be assessed a fine and points.
Assuming Governor Scott signs SB 52; it goes into effect on October 1, 2013. As a Broward car crash attorney I find it ridiculous and dangerous to delay this law. Doing so only permits Florida’s drivers to text and drive all summer long.
This bill was originally filed in November 2012, but it has taken nearly a year and five amendments to plow through Florida’s lumbering legislative process. The bill would have been unanimously passed sooner were it not for its inexplicable rejection by Republican Senator Joe Negron. If you feel like asking Senator Negron why he opposed this lifesaving measure, I suggest you email him.
When our South Florida personal injury lawyers investigate a traffic accident, we always try to obtain the cell phone billing records of the defendant driver to verify if he or she was using their cell phone or texting before the impact.
Politics almost derailed SB 52 at the last minute when an amendment was included restricting the admissibility of a person’s billing records to determine if a violation of the no texting law was committed in all Florida traffic accidents, except where the crash resulted in death or personal injury.
I have personally investigated thousands of traffic accidents over the last 22 years involving bicycles, trucks, pedestrians and rental car crashes. There is no reason why this law should have to wait until October to be in force – it should be effective immediately.
A recent study showed that most drivers who admit to texting believe that they only do it at stop signs and red lights or only read texts while driving. In actuality, these same drivers were found to be texting at least 10% while actually driving outside of their own lane.
Parents have an obligation to refrain from texting, especially with their children in the car. Children who grow up watching their parents’ texting and driving are more likely to believe that this is acceptable behavior behind the wheel.
According to the Mayo Clinic, texting while driving is more than 20 times more dangerous than driving alone. Especially for teens who are less experienced drivers and less likely to be able to appreciate and react to an unexpected hazard. Nearly 82% of Americans between 16-17 years of age own cell phones. Worse, most admit to talking and texting while driving. Unfortunately, most drivers do not understand the incredible risks involved in texting and driving.
There are a number of ways to help prevent yourself or your children from texting while driving. New apps like Safe Texting AR reads both text messages and emails out loud hands free and in real time. AT&T understands the importance of ending texting and driving and has an elegant solution that sends a customized message to friends that lets them know you are behind the wheel of a car moving at least 25 mph and cannot reply to texts at this time.
ATT&T also has a mobile app that will provide employers of large and small businesses to monitor their employees on the road by providing real time management and blocking of cell phone, emailing and texting use. This is especially crucial for businesses that rely on their employees to make deliveries and drive school buses.
We hope that Governor Scott signs this bill and makes Florida a safer place for everyone. I am sure if you look now at the last text you sent or received on your cell phone, you would agree that that text would not be worth dying for.