State lawmakers in Florida are proposing a $30 fine for drivers caught texting while operating a motor vehicle. The new measure, proposed by members of the Florida Legislature, is aimed at preventing cell phone distractions while driving. The National Safety Council has estimated that 1.6 million crashes each year are caused by cell phone use. The new measure would not make using a cell phone while driving illegal, rather, it calls for a ban on reading or writing text messages while operating a vehicle.
Florida State Senator Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, stated that "distracted driving is an epidemic that’s sweeping through our state and country, destroying lives and families." Dockery cites a recent survey which indicates that 71 percent of drivers between 18 and 49 admit to texting or making cell calls while driving, and that distractions were reported to be a factor in 16 percent of highway fatalities and 21 percent of injuries in 2008. Texting and driving is banned for all drivers in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and banned for young drivers in 9 states. Governor Charlie Crist has said he would sign a bill banning texting and driving if it passes.
Distracted driving is just another one of the myriad of distractions facing drivers today. From loud radios, to eating, to talking to passengers, the dangers of distracted driving only seem to get worse as our society becomes more technologically advanced. We need to pass this ban on texting and driving because it will save lives, and prevent avoidable tragedies.