Hopefully, our roadways are going to be a little more safe because of what the State of Florida recently did.
Finally, Florida is cracking down on distracted driving.
No one should ever text and drive.
We shouldn’t need laws to force us to use common sense when driving.
But we do.
For example, Georgia’s hands-free law went in effect last summer and it has made some difference but distracted driving is still a major problem and contributes to wrecks, injuries and fatalities.
On Interstate 75 it has been common to see drivers with Florida plates speeding and texting away. Hopefully, Florida’s new law will curb that a bit. Conversely, when Georgia drivers cross the state line they should be warned that entering the Sunshine State no longer means it is OK to pick up the phone while tooling down the interstate.
Distracted driving is now what is called a primary offense in Florida, meaning that if you are texting in a moving vehicle — that includes emailing and other forms of typing on a mobile device — you can be pulled over and ticketed.
It’s about time.
The fines in Florida are modest but each offense can mean three points on your license.
Florida’s law is better than it was but doesn’t go nearly far enough.
Unlike Georgia, Florida allows a few types of phone usage.
Remember in Georgia you are not allowed to touch or support your phone with your body while driving.
In Florida, messages related to navigation or safety such as emergency traffic and weather alerts are permitted and drivers can use their phone to report a traffic incident, medical emergency, fire/crime or hazardous roads.
That is not good law.
Causing another accident while reporting an accident makes no sense.
According to the AAA Auto Club, in 2018 there were more than 51,000 crashes involving a distracted driver in Florida. On average, that is 140 crashes every single day.
A recent AAA study found that 78 percent of Americans say texting while driving is a significant danger, yet 35 percent still admit to doing it.
“Drivers who text are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “Typing on the phone diverts drivers’ attention away from the road, and endangers the lives of all motorists. AAA urges drivers to put the phone down and focus on the road. Hopefully the threat of being caught will be enough for drivers to change this dangerous habit, before something bad happens to them or anyone else.”
We could not agree more.
We encourage everyone to never text and drive. If you have to reply to a text, pull over, get your vehicle in a safe place, come to a complete stop and then resume driving only after you have finished your messages.
No message is so important or pressing that it warrants putting your life, your passengers’ lives and the lives of others on the roadway at risk.