Every year, around 400 people die from crashes that are a direct result of texting and driving in the US. Despite the fact that all US states have texting and driving laws in place, distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of road accidents in the US. Distracted driving includes many activities such as eating, drinking, adjusting the radio etc. However, texting is the most common and alarming activity that takes driver’s eyes and attention away from the road.
In order to deal with the menace of distracted driving, many states have introduced broader laws that ban all cellphone use while driving. Instead of enumerating all the prohibited operations, these states make the ‘holding’ of cellphone illegal while driving. Are such sweeping laws effective when it comes to reducing texting and driving accidents and should more states enact them? If a recent study by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is to be believed, the answer is yes.
IIHS study on distracted driving
IIHS study revolves around three states – Oregon, Washington, and California. Each of these states broadened their laws in the year 2017. The cellphone interaction is allowed only via hands-free systems in all the three states. In Oregon and Washington, the ban applies even if the vehicle is not moving due to traffic or other delays.
The number of rear-end car accidents has seen a decline in Oregon and Washington ever since the stricter laws were adopted, the IIHS paper reveals. However, no such decline has been witnessed in California. “The mixed results suggest that broader cellphone laws can work, but the specific wording and other factors like the severity of the penalties seem to make a difference,” said Ian Reagan, the lead author of the paper.
Texting while driving crashes in Florida
As is the case in most other states, distracted driving crashes are on the rise in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), more than 56,000 distracted driving crashes took place in Florida in 2021. These crashes resulted in 333 fatalities. As cellphone usage is one of the primary causes of distracted driving, a significant percentage of these fatalities can be attributed to texting while driving. Also, the fact that many distracted driving crashes go unreported in Florida makes these figures even more worrying and troublesome.
What does the law say in Florida?
In 2019, texting while driving was made a primary offense in Florida. You can get pulled over and issued a ticket if you’re caught texting and driving. As per the law, you are not allowed to read, type or send a text message if you’re on the driver’s seat and the vehicle is moving. However, you can do so if the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light or is stationery due to a traffic jam or any other reason. It is legal for drivers to ‘hold’ a cellphone while driving in Florida, unless they are in a school zone or road construction zone.
What to do is someone is a victim of texting and driving?
Texting while driving cases can be complex, challenging, and often difficult to prove. While you can try to navigate everything on your own, it’s best to seek legal representation as soon as possible. In most of the cases, at-fault drivers deny responsibility and obtaining a fair compensation from the insurance company may prove to be a huge challenge. You may have to gather all accident reports and obtain the phone and data usage records of the texting driver, which requires the assistance of a lawyer.