Starting October 1, Florida has become the latest state to pass laws related to texting while driving, though they won’t be remotely as strict as some other states. Out of the over 250,000 automobile crashes in the state last year, nearly 5,000 of them were attributed to someone texting when behind the wheel. Studies have been conducted that show that texting impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely even worse than being under the influence of alcohol. This is due to the average mobile phone user not focusing on the road while handling their device. Suffice is to say that reaction times are significantly hampered when you’re not focused on the roadway.
Car and Driver Magazine Reaction Time Study Results:
- Normal Driver: 0.54 seconds to brake
- Drunk Driver: add 4 feet
- Reading email while driving: add 36 feet
- Sending text while driving: add 70 feet
The big difference between this texting ban and ones in other states is that it’s considered a secondary offense. This means, you can only be punished for texting while driving if it’s in conjunction with another violation, such as swerving or failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection.
Texting While Driving Penalties
- First offense: $30 plus court costs
- Second offense within 5 years: $60 plus 3 points on your license
Additional consequences include potential increases in your insurance rates and increasing the likelihood that the police will search your vehicle. You will still be allowed to text at red lights, while in stopped traffic, or to report a crime. Hands free options, such as the iPhone’s Siri or cars that allow mobile device integration are still permissible as well.
We should mention that seat belt laws also started out as a secondary offense, so be on the lookout for driver safety advocacy groups to demand changes to this law. Above all, use common sense. Take a look at the last text message you received and ask yourself if it was worth your life or someone else’s life to read it while driving.