What Is Florida Doing to Address Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is one of the most common forms of injury-producing accidents in Florida. In fact, distracted driving ranks up there with drunk driving and dangerous weather. To protect drivers from distractions and encourage safe phone use, Florida has put new programs in place.
Safe Phone Zones
The state of Florida has created more than 60 safe phone zones to promote smart use of cellphones behind the wheel. These zones are incorporated into rest stops and high service plazas as well as welcome centers. The markers for these zones are octagonal and have a white border similar to a stop sign, featuring a cell phone symbol in the center. It's not against the law to text behind the wheel in Florida if your car is stationary, so pull over, put the car in park, and take care of your communication requirements before you put away the phone and pull back into traffic.
Texting and Driving Laws
Until recently, cell phone use behind the wheel was known as a secondary offense. That is, if you were ticketed for distracted driving and had been using your cell phone illegally, you could be penalized for cellphone use while driving. However, just seeing you with a cellphone in use behind the wheel was not enough reason for a policeman to give you a ticket. That law has been changed. Now, handheld devices that are visibly in use in the presence of law enforcement can get you a ticket. Texting while driving is now a primary traffic offense in Florida.
Hands-Free Doesn't Equal Safe
It's important to note that hands-free cell phone use is still distracting. You may not be typing, but even holding a phone conversation can lead to a loss of focus behind the wheel. Because things can happen very quickly while you're driving, the briefest distraction can lead to a catastrophic accident. Florida drivers are strongly encouraged to avoid any phone contact while they're behind the wheel. Due to Florida's demographic representation as having one of the oldest populations in the country, many drivers there may not be well-versed in texting technology. However, older drivers are at greater risk for wrecks due to poor vision, particularly night vision, and slower reflexes.
The driving public would be well-served in the state of Florida and across the United States to focus on their driving and not trying to get away with texting. One accident can radically change many lives, and there are few communications that can't wait until the driver can pull over.