A bill to prevent car accidents caused by texting while driving made progress during yesterday's Florida legislative session, but it has a long way to go. Despite studies that conclude a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash than one not texting, a similar bill has died without being passed each of the last three years.
The Senate Communications committee on Wednesday voted 9-0 for the bill (SB 52) imposing a statewide ban on texting while driving but exempts police and other emergency vehicles. The law does not permit law enforcement to pull someone over simply for texting while driving. Instead, it is subject to secondary enforcement. That means police could cite drivers for it only if they had been pulled over for another violation such as speeding. An initial violation would lead to a $30 fine and — if texting resulted in a crash — the driver would be assessed six points. Points lead to increased insurance rates.
TBO.com reports that drivers who text do take their eyes off the road for almost 5 seconds, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry. At 55 mph, a driver can cross the equivalent of a football field while not looking.
Those against the bill feel that it allows the government to intrude further into our lives. Instead of creating a new law, they say, police should enforce careless driving and reckless driving laws already on the books.
Another question is does a texting ban really reduce car accidents? According to a 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which looks at insurance claims, automobile accidents didn't go down in states that banned texting by drivers. In fact, it found that reported collisions went up slightly.
Stay tuned to this blog for any developments in this proposed law. In the meantime, drive safely and watch out for those who don't!
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.