3 Months In – Is Florida’s Texting-While-Driving Ban Strong Enough?

Texting_While_DrivingIn October 2013, Florida became the 41st state to ban texting while driving, when the state’s texting-while-driving ban went into effect. But, after three months under the new law, many critics are asking if the law, which makes texting behind the wheel a secondary offense, is strong enough to deter would-be distracted drivers.

Data regarding the number of texting citations is now available. As Keith Morelli of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports in his article, “Texting-While-Driving Ban Lacks Teeth Critics Say,” only 17 texting citations have been issued in Hillsborough County, which has a population of almost 1.3 million. Further, only about 400 citations have been issued statewide. We here at GDL Institute think that it’s very likely those 400 ticketed drivers are rethinking their decision to drive while distracted, which means there are 400 safer drivers on the road. But, we are also watching the news very closely for any future changes to the law which would give law enforcement officers the opportunity to cite distracted drivers without requiring another reason to stop the driver first. In fact, Florida Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs, of Delray Beach, has introduced a bill in the Senate that would make the texting ban a primary offense.

Read the full Tampa Bay Tribune article here, and let us know what you think! Is Florida’s texting while driving law helping to reduce the number of accidents on area roads and highways?

Resources

  • Texting-While-Driving Ban Lacks Teeth Critics Say – Tampa Bay Tribune
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Drive Safely During Summer’s ‘100 Deadliest Days’ on Florida Roadways

Learner's PermitIts summer time and many teens are taking advantage of the break from school to take their Learner’s Permit course and get started on their driving practice. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the extra time off and summer sunshine to practice new driving skills. However, summer isn’t quite as carefree as it seems. There are more fatal accidents during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of the year. All drivers, especially new drivers, should take extra care to drive defensively this summer.

If you are a parent, consider setting important driving guidelines for your teens. To ensure accountability, you and your teen can sign a parent/teen agreement outlining the consequences for violating set rules. This sample agreement and other helpful parent resources are available on our website.

If you are planning to begin practicing with your teen driver this summer, focus on basic driving techniques and reinforcing good driving habits:

  1. Buckle up for safety.
  2. Practice driving in different weather conditions, and times of day. A new driver should have experience driving safely in both sunny and rainy driving conditions as well as some practice driving after dark. For more tips on driving in wet weather, check out our blog post “Spring Has Sprung – Drive Safe in those April Showers”.
  3. Hazard recognition is important. Keep your eyes on the road and practice scanning ahead to prepare for upcoming hazards such as animals crossing the road, potholes, construction zones and more.

And remember, teens often look to their parents or guardians for examples and will pick up on any of your own bad driving habits. Set a good example by turning off or silencing the ringer on your phone, keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, and maintaining a safe speed and following distance. Practice makes perfect!

© 2013 GDL Institute