Florida May Soon Impose Full Texting While Driving Ban
Florida is one of the last states in all of America that have not yet enforced a full ban on texting while driving. But that soon could change, as the state’s lawmakers prepare to review a bill that proposes such a ban.
According to existing laws in the Sunshine State, text messaging by non-commercial drivers is considered a secondary offenses, which means that before law enforcement can cite a driver for texting while driving, they will have to see another violation (e.g. changing lanes illegally, overspeeding). Under the proposed bill however, texting while driving will be considered a primary offense, which means that any guilty party will have to pay a fine in the amount of $30, that is on top of court costs.
Across America, texting while driving is already a primary offense in 43 states, and a secondary offense in only four states, namely Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and of course, Florida. Meanwhile in Arizona, Montana, and Missouri, there are no state laws against texting while driving (in Missouri, there are none against non-commercial drivers who are at least 22 years old).
According to estimates by the United States government, accidents that involved text messaging and other distracted driving has resulted to nearly 3,500 deaths throughout the country in 2015 alone (that is over nine people killed on a daily basis), not to mention causing injuries to nearly 400,000.
There is no recent data regarding the number of text messaging related road accidents in the state of Florida, but the Associated Press did recently report that in 2017, car crashed had led to nearly 2,700 deaths. Around three drivers each day across the Sunshine State are cited for texting while driving violations under the existing state laws.
Based on statistics provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Florida has the ninth highest highway death rate in 2016, tied with Arizona and Montana (as mentioned earlier, these states do not have state laws against texting while driving). The IIHS’ data also shows that five of the seven states without a primary offense law against texting while driving had 2016 mortality rates higher than the national average.
Surprisingly, the IIHS’ own studies show that the states that have imposed texting while driving bans have not registered decreases in the number of road accidents. Another study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2014 however offers evidence that there was a 3 percent decrease in the number of road fatalities in states where a full texting while driving ban was imposed.