Beginning in October 2013, the State of Florida made it illegal to send and read text messages while driving, and while AAA called this law’s adoption “a good step” , the possible effectiveness of the law has been questioned by others. The reality is that the law is a step in the right direction with regard to Driver safety. But as the law can currently only be enforced as a Secondary Violation, meaning the Driver must be pulled over for another violation, like speeding, not wearing a seat belt, running a red light, or DUI to be ticketed, it is destined to lack the effectiveness that many of its proponents wished for it. However, what is not being discussed by many Floridians, and has not managed to make it into the Public Relations discussions of the law, is that the law does not only cover text-messaging.
F.S. 316.305 (3)(a) States That:
“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 on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”
The thing is our phones do so much more these days. We can send and receive emails, we can update our Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Foursquare pages. We can surf the internet, watch YouTube videos or even streaming television, we can do the majority of our banking, and we can play games. Cell Phones are a lifeline to the entire world for many, especially in the younger generation. The new law prohibits all of these activities, but I fear that so much attention has been paid to the ban on texting that many have failed to comprehend that not only can they no longer text while driving, but they cannot Tweet, Facebook, Email, play Candy Crush, take “Selfies,” bank, or check out the newest LOLCat YouTube video.
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do. But, in this author’s opinion, the danger created by reading a simple text message pales in comparison to the danger created by a driver that reads an entire news article or scrolls through their Facebook Newsfeed while driving. Just as Texting while driving is now reaching the national discussion, Tweeting while driving is beginning to become a national story as well. Texting while driving can take a driver’s eyes off of the road for as much as 75% of the time that they are driving. And while that number sounds daunting, the amount of immersion required to read a 160 character text message is dwarfed by the amount required of a driver that is reading an article on their favorite news outlet or blog.
While texting and driving is dangerous, our Florida drivers should be aware that any activity that requires their attention to be on their cell phone and not on the road is equally if not more dangerous (and also illegal) and should be absolutely avoided. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver you have rights under Florida Law. Contact a licensed Florida Personal Injury Attorney for advice. Dolman Law Group is able to provide zealous representation of injured parties that have been affected by the negligence of a distracted driver. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation by calling 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765