“Last Emoji” Drives Home Dangers of Distraction

The whole point of an “emoji” is to instantly express an idea or emotion. People sending text messages use them all the time.caraccident

That’s the idea with, “The Last Emoji,” now situated in downtown Miami. It aims to speak the language of texters to send a powerful message. As NBC-6 Miami reports, the eye-catching sculpture was crafted with a mass of mangled metal – old tires, a bright red car seat, a scraped up banana yellow car frame.┬áStand back a few feet, and the gnarled pieces take a grisly shape: A twisted, goofy smile of a typical, circle-faced emoji, one wild eye to toward the sky and the car seat tongue protruding oddly downward.

Next to the sculpture is the clear-typed message: “DN’T TXT & DRIVE.”

The sculpture, featured prominently on Brickell Avenue, was crafted by advertising agency Alma on behalf of cellular phone service carrier Sprint. Visitors are invited to take a selfie with the sculpture, and upload it with the hashtag #SprintDriveSafe.

Creators chose Miami – and more specifically, Florida – because of the fact that Florida is one of just a few states that does not consider texting while driving a primary offense. That means F.S. 316.305, which prohibits texting while driving in the Sunshine State, is not grounds for a law enforcement officer to initiate a traffic stop. Rather, it’s a secondary offense, so tickets can only be issued after the driver has been stopped and cited for some other offense.

Critics say this means the law is practically useless.

For example just six months after the law went into effect, only 32 citations were issued in all of Broward County. Two years after the passage of the law, police reported there had been 135 times more seat belt violations issued than texting while driving tickets (just 2,061 statewide). Authorities say they see drivers texting every day, but are essentially powerless to do anything about it.

Another downside to the law? Even when a citation is issued, it’s accompanied by┬ápaltry $30 fine for a first-time offense. That doesn’t serve as much of a deterrent.

Sponsors of the measure say they knew it was weak, but they were battered down by fellow legislators who didn’t want to sacrifice drivers’ personal freedom. The hope was always that this was a law to which additional protections and penalties could be added. But thus far, in the nearly three years it’s been in place, that has not yet happened.

Makers of, “The Last Emoji,” with its demented smile and busted up tires for eyes, is an attempt to drive home the importance of tougher laws.

April was national Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distraction is a significant factor in serious traffic accidents. Texting alone accounted for the deaths of nearly 3,130 people in 2014 and resulted in more than 420,000 injuries.

The Sprint campaign is the latest to grow awareness of the issue. Another was the 2013 documentary made by Werner Herzog titled, “From One Second to the Next,” which focuses on how life was forever altered – or ended – by drivers’ decision to text.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Sprint unveils ‘The Last Emoji’ to fight texting while driving, May 4, 2016, By Aaron Smith, CNN Money

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