Florida is one of the only states left in the country that has yet to enact any sort of distracted driving laws. Florida drivers can still talk on the phone and text message behind the wheel. To make it even worse, the state also doesn’t allow local legislation on distracted driving laws.
Federal officials are still looking at enacting a nationwide ban on electronic distractions for all drivers. Until then, Florida may never get any of these laws as state lawmakers keep turning down similar proposals.
Our West Palm Beach accident attorneys understand that distracted driving car accidents took the lives of about 3,000 people in 2010. According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), talking on a cell phone behind the wheel makes you about 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Drivers who text message behind the wheel are about 25 times more likely to get into an accident. Regardless of distracted driving laws, state or federal, drivers are urged to remove distractions from the driver’s seat. This includes not only electronic devices, but anything that could potentially take your eyes off of the road.
“It is increasingly becoming an issue because of the numbers of people who have cellphones,” said Highway Patrol Lt. Bill Leeper.
There are only 11 states that don’t have any distracted driving laws. These states include Texas, South Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, Missouri, Mississippi, Hawaii, Florida and Arizona.
In 2010, nearly 20 percent of all injury accidents that were reported credited a distraction as the main cause. In just June of 2011, there were nearly 200 billion text messages sent and received in the U.S. That up about 50 percent from the number in June of 2009.
Teenage and early 20s drivers are most likely to engage in these kinds of distractions behind the wheel. According to recent polls, about 40 percent of American teenagers say that they’ve been in the car with a driver who was using a cell phone in such a way that they felt in danger.
Don’t think that getting a text message is that dangerous behind the wheel? Consider this: A driver who gets a text message while driving takes their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If you’re driving at approximately 55 miles per hour, that means that you can travel the entire length of a football field without ever looking at the road.
Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by more than 35 percent, according to Distraction.gov.
A distracted driver has some of the same reaction abilities as a driver who is legally drunk. We all know how dangerous drinking and driving is. Now, we need more drivers to recognize the dangers of texting while driving. You may not be running the risk of getting a traffic ticket in the state while using the phone and driving, but you are running the risk of getting into a potentially fatal accident. Put down the distractions for your safety and for the safety of those around you.