This spring, our blog has focused on several issues, from medical malpractice to car accidents, that were addressed by our legislature in its 2011 session. However, the results of the session have shown that no changes are being made when it comes to texting while driving. A recent entry by the website Hands Free Info noted that several bills aimed at limiting or prohibiting the use of cell phones or text messaging devices while driving died in session before becoming law. Among the bills include the following programs: a bill prohibiting minors and school bus drivers from using cell phones and a bill that would ban texting while driving.
This comes as a shock to us and to many Floridians, considering the controversy that the issue has caused in recent years. These days, drivers of all ages have cell phones that have texting plans. As an article from Ocala.com notes, Florida is one of 17 states that have no specific ban on texting while driving. Only eight states, along with the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, ban cell phone use while driving. Yet, according to a 2008 report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 46% of drivers 16-17 years old and 48% of drivers 18-24 years old text while driving. In fact, the report noted that 1 in 7 U.S. drivers admitted to texting while driving.
In spite of this, others have responded with efforts to educate the public on the dangers of texting while driving. Teen sensation Justin Bieber recently supported a campaign by a South Florida company to develop a phone app that will disable texting, emailing and the keyboard while the phone is in motion. The Disney Corporation and the U.S. Department of Transportation have teamed up to release a public service announcement using the characters from the Disney movie “Cars”:
Whether or not laws exist in our state, we urge all drivers to be alert and focused while behind the wheel and we ask they they refrain from texting while driving. In the past, I have been firm in my opinions on this issue. My hope is that one day Florida will pass and enforce laws that prohibit this dangerous activity.