Home Opinions Drivers must use common sense and avoid texting while operating vehicles
Drivers must use common sense and avoid texting while operating vehicles
We would like to commend Gov. Ron DeSantis, members of the state Legislature and everyone who was involved in passing the law against texting and driving in Florida. And we’d encourage every single motorist who gets behind the wheel in the Sunshine State to take that law seriously and follow it – at all times.
Anyone who owns a cell phone knows of the dangers of using the device while driving. Common sense tells us to put our phones down when operating three-plus tons of dangerous metal at high rates of speed. Yet, in today’s world where many crave the instant gratification of “being connected” at all times, it just doesn’t seem to be the priority.
Statistics show that 25 percent of all vehicle crashes in the United States involve the use of a cell phone, with drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in an incident if they are reading or sending text messages.
For those who might be skeptical of the dangers of using electronic devices while driving, please consider these facts:
Driving while texting causes 1.6 million vehicle crashes every year.
25 percent of all car crashes in the United States involve the use of a cell phone.
In 2018, 4,637 deaths in crashes in the U.S. were related to cell phone use.
20 percent of U.S. drivers send emails or text messages while on the road.
Almost 390,000 injuries occur annually in the U.S. due to texting while driving.
Drivers are 23 times more likely to crash their vehicles if they are reading or sending text messages.
More than 80 percent of U.S. drivers have reported seeing pedestrians engrossed in their phones while crossing roadways.
Motorists ages 25-39 text and drive the most, followed by those 40-59.
USA Today research shows that 43 percent of teens and 49 percent of adults text and drive.
Motorists travel the full length of a football field – 300 yards – each time they text while driving.
The time motorists’ eyes are off the road increases by about 400 percent when they are texting and driving.
Surveys show that 63 percent of motorists are more worried about distracted drivers than drunk drivers.
Distracted driving causes 35 percent more injuries than drunk driving.
According to the Brain Injury Society, texting while driving is as bad as drinking four beers.
A whopping 82 percent of American teenagers own a cell phone, with 52 percent talking on the phone while driving and 32 percent texting on the road.
The overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of teenagers say they understand the consequences of texting and driving, yet 35 percent say they do it anyway.
Of all the teenagers involved in fatal accidents every year, about 21 percent were believed to be using cell phones at the time of the crash.
Teen drivers have a 400 percent higher chance of being in a car crash when texting while driving than adults.
Amazingly, 77 percent of adults and 55 percent of teenage drivers claim they can easily manage texting while driving.
92 percent of motorists support state laws that ban texting while driving, while 74 percent support banning answering calls while driving.
Not surprisingly, there have been cases locally of dangerous behavior on the roads involving texting and driving:
In May 2018, a resident of The Quarters Apartments in Lady Lake admitted that he had been texting when he was pulled over by a Lake County sheriff’s deputy. He had been spotted swerving while driving on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 at Griffin Road.
In March 2018, an Ocala woman admitted to texting while driving and then fleeing from the scene of a hit-and-run crash. The victim of the rear-end collision got the woman’s license tag number and she was apprehended a short time later traveling at a speed of more than 100 mph on State Road 40, about six miles from the scene of the incident.
As most drivers know, Florida is among the 48 states – along with Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands – that have banned text messaging for all drivers. Each has their own fines and penalties. Alaska is by far the toughest with a $10,000 fine, with California being the most lenient with a $20 penalty.
Florida’s texting law went into effect on July 1, but the warning period for offenders ended on Dec. 31. So, beginning Jan. 1, these are the fines and penalties Sunshine State motorists caught texting and driving could face:
First-offense drivers will be fined $30 and no points will be assessed to their driving record.
A second texting-and-driving offense within five years will be considered a moving violation and carry a $60 fine and three points on your driving record.
Two points will be added to the primary offense for texting in a school zone.
Six points will be added to the primary offense for texting that results in a crash.
As we said earlier, we implore every driver to put down their cell phones while operating vehicles. Driving is already one of the most dangerous activities in most people’s lives. Compounding it by being distracted while sending a text message that certainly can wait is ludicrous at best.
So, please be careful out there and keep your eyes on the road. And when it comes to your cell phone, make sure your vehicle is in park and a safe distance away from the roadway before you make sending that text the priority of the moment.