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Texting While Driving: What Every Florida Driver Needs to Know

According to TXTNG Kills, 23% of all traffic accidents involve the use of cell phones. That’s 1.3 million crashes every year! Did you know that the minimum amount of time your attention is distracted from the road while texting is 5 seconds? That means, if you are traveling at 55 mph, you will drive the length of a football field without looking at the road!

We can all relate… You are driving down the road and your phone makes a noise. Your eyes are immediately drawn to your cell phone to see who needs you (especially if you are a parent). Texts and phone calls let you know you’re wanted or needed and it is difficult not look to see who is trying to reach you. It’s human nature. But, it is also the cause of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every single year across the United States.

Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law

In October of 2013, Florida placed into law a limited ban on texting while driving. Florida was one of the last 4 states to enact such a law, and we still remain one of the more lenient states regarding texting and cell phone use. Florida law only secondarily enforces this texting ban and still does not impose limitations on cell phone use while driving.

The law states: “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing, and instant messaging.”

In other words, Florida drivers cannot type into their cell phone keyboard, or send or read messages while driving. However, even if a driver does manually enter information into a wireless device, that by itself will not result in an arrest! A driver can only be charged for the texting violation if arrested for another motor vehicle violation (see below).

How is Florida’s Texting Law Enforced?

Our texting law is considered a “secondary law.” A secondary law means that an officer cannot pull someone over and issue a ticket for texting unless he has observed another violation as well – for example, running a stop sign. A police officer cannot simply pull someone over just for texting while driving. Violation of the law is treated as a non-moving violation. Texting in a school zone is only a two-point violation, passing a stopped school bus is four points. And, if a crash occurs as a result of a moving violation and texting, the driver will receive six points on their license. Additionally, the new law gives Florida the right to subpoena an accused person’s cell phone billing records in order to prove its case. That means that the content of the messages will be admissible as evidence in a texting and driving trial. In many other states, you can be pulled over for either talking or texting even if your driving is flawless.

Statistics are Frightening

We already learned that texting accounts for 23% of all accidents, but what is the general public’s attitude?

  • Texting makes an automobile accident 23 TIMES MORE LIKELY!
  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely drive while texting.
  • 55% claim it is easy to text while they drive!
  • 82% of 16 and 17-year-olds have a cell phone.
  • 34% of these novice drivers admit that they have texted while driving.
  • 52% of brand new drivers say they have talked on their cell phones while driving.
  • Teens who text while driving spends 10% of the time outside of their driving lane!
  • 48% of teens 12-17 have been in a car while the driver was texting
  • 15% of young drivers have witnessed their parents texting while driving.

How to Stop Texting While Driving

If you are currently in the habit of texting while driving – you need some new habits! Science has proven that a new habit takes 21 days to form. This is true whether you are trying to change your diet, quit smoking or eliminate texting while you drive. To help get you through those first 21 days, TXTNG KILLS has created a phone guard that will actually keep you from texting while driving. They have a variety of bands are designed to be attractive to teenagers and can be worn on either the thumbs or wrist.

The thumb bands act only as reminders not to text. The wrist band is designed to be placed around the phone as a guard whenever you get behind the wheel. Even the act of taking the wrist band off your wrist and to use as a phone guard will help create the conviction that texting and driving is a bad thing. The reminder alone decreases the urge to text and drive.

You can also put your phone into your glove box, turn the ringer off or power your phone off completely to eliminate temptation. For the first 21 days, do whatever it takes! After that, it will be a habit and no longer difficult to avoid using your phone while driving. You can also designate someone else in the car as your texter while you’re driving. Get your kids involved by letting them text for you. It keeps them occupied AND sets a good example of the seriousness of texting and driving. The whole “do as I say and not as I do” philosophy doesn’t work well with kids, and texting and driving is no exception! If your children see you do it, they’re probably going to do it too!

Right now is a good time to start forming the habit of being a text-free driver. If you need help, consider getting a texting wrist band/phone guard. It may be the best $1.50 you ever spend. Get one for every driver in your household and begin forming good habits together. You’ll all be safer and you’ll be making the roads safer for everyone else too!

s practicing accident attorneysAyres Cluster Law understands too well the dangers of texting while driving. We believe the new texting ban in Florida is a step in the right direction, but tougher laws could save more lives. Meanwhile, we encourage all to take the step to eliminate texting while driving, and also to remember – drive defensively knowing there are distracted drivers still on our Florida roads.