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Examining Florida’s Texting While Driving Ban

It’s been only a few months since the controversial texting while driving ban went into effect in Florida. Opponents of the legislation critiqued it from its early stages for a wide range of reasons — some argued that texting is not cited as a contributing factor in enough accidents to warrant a ban, while others had concerns about the law’s enforceability. Others, still, worried that the penalties proposed were too lax to deter motorists from texting. The goal of the ban is to reduce the number of auto accidents and resulting fatalities that occur due to driver distraction. Thus far, is it working? 

It’s hard to ignore the facts about texting and driving: 

  • In the last half-decade, smartphones and other wireless devices have become wildly popular among people of all ages, in part due to their texting and other messaging capabilities.
  • At the same time, accidents in which distracted driving played a role have also increased in frequency, resulting in more than 3,000 people killed and more than 420,000 injured in the U.S. in 2013 alone.
  • In the five seconds it takes to look at a phone just to read a text, someone driving at 55 mph will have traveled the length of a football field 

Something needed to be done to make the roads safer. However, because the ban on texting in Florida does not permit law enforcement to stop drivers solely for texting, only ten citations were issued in Seminole County in the first three months the law was in effect—despite officers insisting that they see motorists operating phones behind the wheel every day. It seems like the ban has had little effect on dangerous driver behavior. It still remains to be seen if the law ultimately yields fewer serious and fatal car accidents.

 

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