Thinking of Texting and Driving in Florida? Think Again
We all know that texting while driving in Florida is discouraged; it endangers you, other drivers, and pedestrians around you. However, states are finding that laws need to be in place in order to keep the public safe.
Read on to learn all about the implementation of Florida’s expansion of texting while driving, and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
Florida’s Newest Solution
Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida since 2013, considered a secondary offense. You can only text while you’re at a red light. This meant officers could issue citations for texting if they pulled drivers over for other reasons, such as speeding or swerving.
Starting July 1, 2019
Florida made texting while driving a primary offense. Officers are able to pull drivers over if they spot them texting while driving, without the initial need of another traffic violation.
Starting October 1, 2019
Florida drivers are now not allowed to hold their cell phones in their hands in work and school zones. Even if you’re not texting, if you’re holding your phone up to see the screen or against your ear, officers have the right to issue you a citation in these zones.
To take calls in work and school zones, drivers will need to use hands-free methods, such as Bluetooth or another hands-free device. Florida drivers can also use GPS in those zones as long as they’re viewing the screen hands-free.
Starting January 1, 2019
In order to prepare drivers for this new law, Florida is phasing it in slowly. You may be issued a warning instead of a ticket until January 1, 2020. After January 1, here are the results you can expect after a violation:
- First violation: $30 fine, no points put on license
- Second violation (within 5-year period): $60-100 fine, three points against license
How Dangerous is Texting While Driving?
As technology has developed, so has our reliance on it. We carry our mobile phones everywhere we go, and many of us will turn right around if we’ve found we left our phones at home. It’s become natural to glance down at our phones every time we hear a notification, text, or call.
This gut reaction continues even while we’re driving – with deadly consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed by distracted riding in 2017 alone. This is 8.5 percent of total fatalities for the year, an alarmingly large number.
Many people who text while driving claim they only take a few seconds to send out a text. However, researchers are finding that most people typically take 5 to 8 seconds while they look at their screens.
Car and Driver Magazine conducted a test to determine how long it takes drivers to brake while driving 70 miles per hour. Here are the results:
- Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
- Legally drunk: Add 4 feet
- Reading e-mail: Add 36 feet
- Sending a text: Add 70 feet
As you can see, sending a text is even more dangerous than driving drunk.
Auto Tech Solutions on the Rise
The automotive industry has taken the distracted driving fatality statistics seriously and has some of the most effective solutions to keeping people off their phones.
They recognize that they have a responsibility to provide drivers with features that allow drivers to safely answer calls and texts without the need to look at or touch their phones.
Along with easier Bluetooth connectivity, auto companies are also including more high-tech features in cars, such as:
Forward-Collision Warning (FCW)
This technology provides a visual, audible, or tactile alert that warns drivers when they’re about to collide with another car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that FCW resulted in 27 percent less rear-end collisions.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Even with a forward-collision warning, drivers may still not be able to react in time. This is when automatic emergency braking (AEB) kicks in; the brakes are automatically engaged before a crash occurs. With FCW and AEB technology combined, this resulted in 50 percent less rear-end collisions.
Lane-Departure Warning (LDW)
This technology provides drivers with a warning when their vehicle crosses lane markings when their signal isn’t on. Nearly 85,000 crashes would have been prevented in 2015 if all U.S. passenger vehicles were equipped with this technology.
Lane-Keeping Assist (LKA)
Like the automatic emergency braking technology, this has the car kick in with steering and braking adjustments if a vehicle to continues drifting out of its lane.
More Tech Solutions
Phone companies and developers are also offering features and apps that either block notifications while driving or read text messages aloud. Consider downloading these the next time you’re tempted to text and drive. These include:
- AT&T DriveMode – Blocks alerts and sends automated replies when car reaches 15 mph
- CellControl DriveID – Attached windshield device blocks drivers from sending or receiving text messages
- Drivesafe.ly – App reads incoming text messages and emails out loud
- Drivemode – Android app that reads text messages aloud
- Drive Safe Mode – App that alerts parents when teen is texting while the car is moving
- Live2Txt – Android app that blocks text messages and calls with automated reply
- Verizon Driving Mode – Blocks text messages and calls, allows automated reply
- Sprint Drive First – Silences texts and routes calls to voicemail
Texting While Driving in Florida: Helping Protect Lives
The new laws in Florida will help reduce collisions, injuries, and fatalities that result from distracted driving. Although it may seem like an extra convenience, automobile companies and phone companies are providing more and more efficient ways to answer your calls and text without the need to look at or touch your phone.
Texting while driving in Florida is far more dangerous than many people realize. The simplest solution is to wait for the nearest red light and then pick up your phone.
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