Distracted driving summit highlights lack of texting ban in South Florida

The announcement of a distracted driving summit planned for next month in Washington highlights the lack of a cell phone or text messaging ban in Florida.

Our Fort Myers injury lawyers and Palm Beach accident attorneys frequently report on the dangers of distracted driving. Talking on a cell phone, text messaging, eating, drinking, smoking, grooming, using in-car electronics and talking to passengers can all take our minds off the road.

Nationwide, 6,000 people are killed each year and 500,000 are injured by distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet Florida is one of only about a dozen states that have not passed a law governing cell phone use or text messaging by drivers.

Last year’s summit ended with an Executive Order issued by President Obama, which forbid all federal employees from text messaging while driving government vehicles. Safety officials credit the first summit with raising awareness. Of the 30 states that now ban text messaging while driving — 11 have enacted laws so far in 2010.

“Working together, we can put an end to the thousands of needless deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving each year,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “By getting the best minds together, I believe we can figure out how to get people to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.”