September 11, 2013

Texting while driving banned in Florida effective October 1st

Traffic Enforcement Officer Thomas Hill talks
to a group of Sheriff’s Office Explorers at Marathon High School
about the dangers of distracted driving, and the new texting
while driving law which goes into effect on October 1st.
As of October 1st, it will be against the law to text while you are driving in the State of Florida. The Sheriff’s Office wants to make sure everyone is aware of the new law, and is aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving is the most alarming distraction of all because it not only takes your eyes off the road, but it also occupies your hands and your mind. Studies show sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If you are driving at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to drive the length of an entire football field – blindfolded.

In 2011, over 3,000 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an additional 387,000 people were injured, according to statistics from the NHTSA.

“We are glad to see Florida moving in the right direction with this new law,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We would like to see a law that is even more restrictive when it comes to distracted driving, which is responsible for many deaths and injuries on our roadways. But this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Distracted driving has always been an issue for law enforcement officers. People who drive while distracted – by texting, cell phone use, or any number of other activities – are stopped frequently for driving erratically and can be cited for careless driving under current laws. Now, officers will have the added ability to write a traffic ticket for texting while driving.

If you are stopped for another infraction, such as speeding, failing to signal for a turn or running a stop sign, as of October 1st you may also receive a citation for texting if you are engaged in that activity at the time of the stop. The fine for the citation will be $30. As passed by the Florida legislature, it is a secondary offense – meaning you must be stopped for another infraction. In addition, the law does not make it illegal to text while a vehicle is stationary. 

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