Florida is Taking Steps to Curb Teen Driver Distraction - Is It Ambitious Enough?

Accidents happen. They are a part of life that we have to accept. However, the occurrence of some accidents is made more likely by behaviors that are within our control. Where we place our attention when operating a motor vehicle is a prime example. Focusing on the road while driving can greatly reduce the chance of a crash. But there are many distractions out there that take our eyes off the road, our hands off the wheel, and our minds off of driving.

Be a good role model by practicing these behaviors – and encouraging your teen drivers to do the same:
  • Silence your cell phone or use airplane mode. Consider placing it in the glove compartment to avoid temptation.
  • Put passengers in charge of texting, making calls, programming GPS, selecting music, etc.
  • Ask those who frequently contact you not to do so during your commute.
  • Download a safety app such as LifeSaver, SafeDrive, or AT&T DriveMode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that distraction is a factor in 10 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents and 18 percent of those resulting in injury – likely underestimates given the difficulty in measuring the extent to which distraction contributes to a crash. Of all the many activities that can take a driver’s attention away from the job of driving, 95 percent of Florida drivers say that texting while driving is their primary concern. Yet, texting while driving is only a secondary offense here, which means drivers cannot be pulled over for that conduct alone. It has to be paired with another illegal and dangerous driving offense. Even when a driver is cited for texting while driving, the punishment of a $20 fine and zero license points is hardly a deterrent.

More than 40 other states have made texting while driving a primary offense. A recent bill by Florida lawmakers shows some are warming to the idea, but the focus of the proposal is restricted to drivers between the ages of 15 and 17. Although it is important to start somewhere, there are obvious issues with determining a driver’s age. A police officer who pulled over a youthful-looking driver for texting while driving could not issue a ticket if it turned out the driver was 18 years old and there was no other potentially dangerous driving behavior that could serve as the primary offense.

Texting behind the wheel is not limited to one demographic. Drivers of all ages can benefit from being ticketed for a behavior that could result in a major accident if not stopped. There need to be stricter penalties to grab people’s attention and get them to change their risky behavior.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a motorist who chose to drive distracted, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski Law, we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.

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