Texting while driving is dangerous, and Florida takes note

Texting is a driver distraction that results in tens of thousands of vehicle crashes every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

To address this problem, the state of Florida passed a new texting while driving law that became effective in 2019. 

About the law 

In 2016, distracted driving caused nearly 50,000 traffic accidents in the state of Florida. A new law that became effective on July 1, 2019, permits law enforcement officers to stop drivers who they observe to be texting while driving. 

Although it is still permissible to talk on a mobile phone while driving, authorities do not recommend it, and there is one exception. As of Oct. 1, 2019, the law prohibits drivers from holding a wireless device while in a school zone or in a construction zone if workers are present. 

The dangers of texting while driving 

The Office of Traffic Safety notes that at any given time, 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while behind the wheel, and the National Safety Council finds that this activity results in 6 million traffic accidents each year. Drivers engaged in texting are eight times more likely to be in a vehicle crash than those who keep their attention on the road. 

In this age of rapidly changing technology, people have developed an addiction to cellphones and their many capabilities. But it is sobering to know that those who text while driving are six times more likely to cause a traffic accident than even people who drive drunk. 

A look at consequences 

Florida is one of the last states in the country to implement a measure allowing law enforcement to pull over a driver who is texting while his or her vehicle is in motion. The goal is to reduce the number of vehicle crashes, especially those resulting in death or serious injury to innocent motorists. 

This is now a primary law that comes with a fine of $30 plus court costs and any other fees added by the clerk of the court. A subsequent offense within five years becomes a moving violation that results in a heavier fine and adds three points to the offender’s record.