In the state of Florida, the dangers of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, have not been ignored but have been addressed with the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” SB 52. That bill passed in 2013 made texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning a driver has to first be pulled over for some other traffic infraction to be charged. However, over the span of the three years of the law being in place the total number of accidents caused by distracted driving increased by 11%. Driving While Using a Wireless Communications Device Senate bill 76 is, “…prohibiting a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device… “, therefore making texting while driving along with other forms of distracted driving a primary offence meaning you could get pulled over for it. This tougher approach to preventing crashes caused by distracted driving has been getting mixed opinions, some saying this bill is an infringement on a driver’s right to privacy and is too broad, and others seeing the bill as necessary to lower the amount of accidents caused by distracted driving.
This bill will mostly affect the Florida drivers who engage in distracted driving but will consequently affect the police that have to pull them over too. In 2018, car accidents caused by cellphone use caused 15% of the overall societal damage by car crashes. If this bill helps prevent the growing issue of distracted driving, then that is billions of dollars being saved and countless lives. Distracting tasks listed in the bill other than “wireless communications device” usage is reading, writing, performing personal grooming, applying a beauty aid or similar products, and interacting with pets or unsecured cargo. The aim of this bill is to eliminate all distracted driving, not just from cellphone use.
This bill created to eliminate all distracted driving by making the act a primary offense, is gravely needed on Florida roads now. The more lenient “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” from 2013 was put in place and did not work to end the deadly habit many drivers have. In 2018, 4,637 people died in car crashes caused by cellphone use. I support this policy because the “don’t text and drive” public service announcements and catchy ad campaigns have been going on for years and although most know how dangerous it is, it is still done. Right now, smartphone users spend on average 2 hours and 51 minutes daily on their phones, and with phone addiction becoming the new norm this state needs a law like this to show just how serious distracted driving can be. Although this bill will take away some driver privacy, this is to prevent preventable deaths and keep our roads a safe place. This law is necessary to begin the decline of distracted driving.