Beginning Oct. 1, motorists in Florida can be ticketed for texting while driving. However, to issue a ticket for texting, law enforcement first would have to stop a driver for another offense — like careless driving, if a vehicle was swerving or going too slow while the driver texted. The officer would have to see the driver texting before he or she can issue the $30 ticket. Also, exemptions allow motorists to use phones to check maps, issue voice-commands or listen to music or other online programming. Talking on the cell phone is also not restricted. Lastly, under Florida’s new cell phone law, drivers also can legally text while parked, stopped at a light or stuck in a traffic jam.
Is this law strong enough to prevent car crashes? Not according to ABC News’ report of a new AAA study finding that using voice commands to send text messages and emails from behind the wheel actually is more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cell phone.
According to the research, talking on a hands-free phone isn't significantly safer for drivers than talking on a hand-held phone, and using hands-free devices that translate speech into text is the most distracting of all. Speech-to-text systems that enable drivers to send, scroll through, or delete email and text messages required greater concentration by drivers than other potentially distracting activities examined in the study like talking on the phone, talking to a passenger, listening to a book on tape or listening to the radio.
The ABC report notes that other studies have also compared hand-held and hands-free phone use, finding they are equally risky or nearly so. One reason using voice commands is so much more distracting for drivers, even though they aren't using their hands, is that they often require more concentration than simply speaking to another person, said University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer, an expert on cognitive distraction and lead author of the study. Talking to a computer requires far greater precision than talking to a person, he said. Otherwise, "Call home" may get you Home Depot.
So, although voice-texting may not be illegal in Florida (yet), drive carefully and watch out for those who don’t because they are not watching out for you!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.