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Jeffrey Meldon
Jeffrey Meldon
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Texting while driving… it should be illegal in Florida!

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Yet another study has been released showing that texting while driving is dangerous! I say, how many studies do we need to prove the obvious and for this dangerous activity to become illegal in Florida?

This latest and startling study was done by mounting a video camera inside the cab of long-haul semi trucks and was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, one of the world’s largest vehicle safety research organizations. According to Rich Hanowski, the overseer of the project, “texting is in its own universe of risk,” when you compare it to the risk of other multitasking activities that are available to drivers of all kinds while behind the wheel.

The Institute concluded that texting while driving a car, pick-up, or any vehicle, even a semi, increases your risk of causing or being in an accident by 23 times! The study also found that typically drivers when texting, sending or receiving, take their eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which is enough time to go the length of a football field, and then some, when traveling at average highway speeds.

Tom Dingus, director of the Institute, was quoted saying that the study’s message was clear: “You should never do this,” he said of texting while driving. “It should be illegal.”

Yet, it remains a legal activity in the state of Florida; all drivers, even bus drivers with a bus full of school children, and tractor-trailer drivers hauling a double load down I-75, can text at will and still be within the law.

The Florida Legislature had a chance to do something about it this year with several proposed bills that would have changed the law, but failed to, despite the National Safety Council (the Group that got us to buckle up and not drive after drinking) calling for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving.

How many studies and deaths will it take for the Florida Legislature to do something about this proven deadly driving distraction and join the ranks of 14 other states plus DC that have a ban on texting while driving?

Some argue, and understandably so, even if Florida should step up to the plate and make our roadways safer by banning texting while driving, that it would be nearly impossible to enforce and may even make the problem worse, as drivers hide their texting activity well below the line of vision of law enforcement officers, making detection nearly impossible and at the same time, driving while texting even more unsafe.

However, as an accident attorney, I believe making texting illegal while driving is a start and a needed statement and law that Floridians deserve from their lawmakers in Tallahassee.