Distracted driving is a huge issue across the United States. Texting while driving is the riskiest of the distracted driving behaviors, but other distractions include applying makeup, adjusting the radio, drinking coffee, and talking on your phone. When you allow distractions to take over your train of thought when you are behind the wheel, you rob yourself of those few seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or a deadly accident.
This was the case of Liz Marks. Like most of us, she always had her phone close by, and thought texting while driving was no big deal because everyone does it. Sadly, she learned just how big of a deal texting while driving can be. While she survived, she now has life altering injuries that will affect her for the rest of her life.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounted for 2,841 lives in 2018. Here is the breakdown of those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists. The NHTSA leads the national effort to save lives by preventing distracted driving. That is why this April, as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the NHTSA is teaming up with State and local law enforcement to save lives and make our roads safer by combating distracted driving through their U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign. They are working together, along with road safety organizations and advocates, to remind Americans that distracted driving can result in costly consequences. From April 11 to 15, law enforcement will also be making a special effort to identify and ticket anyone who insists on risking their safety and that of others by driving distracted.
Our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton fully support the NHTSA’s mission to put a stop to distracted driving. We want everyone to take National Distracted Driving Awareness Month as a time to regroup and take responsibility for making safe choices every time we get behind the wheel. The NHTSA recommends the following safety tips to get to and from your destinations safe and sound:
- If you need to send or read a text message, pull over and park your car in a safe location. This is the only time it is safe to send or read a text.
- Make your passenger be your “designated texter.” Give them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Just like texting and driving is dangerous, so is engaging in social media. Like Liz Marks, many of us struggle with texting and driving. Our cell-phone use can be habit forming, so if you cannot put the phone down, then put it somewhere you cannot access it while driving. You can put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Florida Wireless Communications While Driving Law
Section 316.305, Florida Statutes allows law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to motorists that are texting and driving. A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email and instant message.
Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, is a prohibition on using wireless communications devices in a handheld manner in school and work zones. A person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area. Active work zone, as it pertains to Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, means that construction personnel are present or are operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work zone area.
Educate Others of the Dangers of Texting and Driving
Please remind your friends and family that if they are driving, then their focus needs to be on the road. They should not be taking phone calls, texting, eating food, or doing anything else that distracts them from driving.
- If you are a passenger in a vehicle and your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
- Ask your friends to join you in eliminating distractions while driving. While this may seem like a small effort, you could actually save a life.
- The NHTSA urges you to share your pledge on social media to spread the word—#JustDrive.
Our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are supporting the NHTSA this April, and throughout the year, to work together to spread this life saving message: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.