Does A Ban On Texting While Driving Help?
At this point, most states have a ban on texting while driving that makes it a primary offense. That means it’s bad enough that a police officer could pull you over for texting behind the wheel and for no other reason. As the law stands now, a Florida officer can give you a ticket for texting, but only if you do something else that can get you pulled over like running a stoplight or speeding. But that could change soon.
The Dangers Of Texting And Driving
You hear a lot about drinking and driving, and driving under the influence is definitely a real problem. Over 10,000 people in America died in 2015 thanks to accidents that happened when at least one driver involved was over the legal limit, and that’s close to a third of all traffic fatalities that year. Nearly 300,000 people were also injured by drunk-driving accidents.
Distracted driving isn’t nearly as fatal, but it’s still a big problem. In 2015, around 3,500 people died in accidents related to distracted drivers, and nearly 400,000 people suffered injuries. And while 300,000 Americans drive under the influence every day, 660,000 drivers use their cellphones while behind the wheel.
Texting while driving is particularly hazardous. Talking to someone on the phone can use up a lot of your concentration, especially if you don’t have a hands-free set, but texting means taking your eyes off the road to read and using at least one hand to type out your response. Doing all that takes up almost all of your attention, and drivers who text behind the wheel often drive just as badly as someone who has had way too much to drink.
The Problems Of A Texting Ban
Texting while driving is definitely dangerous, but sadly there isn’t much information that can say how dangerous it is. Five of the seven states where texting wasn’t a primary offense (Florida included) had higher traffic fatalities than the national average, but none of them were at the top of the list and that means 20 states had the ban and were also above the average.
Passing a texting ban does cause drivers to stop texting so much (at least where the police can see them), but the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety says that its studies show no drop in accident numbers with a texting ban in place. On the other hand, a University of Alabama at Birmingham study showed a modest three percent drop in total traffic fatalities.
At the same time, minority groups worry that adding another primary traffic offense will give police officers one more excuse to pull over more minorities than white drivers. Statistics show this happened already with seat belts and could very well happen again. Voting down the texting bill currently moving through Florida’s legislature won’t improve minority treatment, but it might not be worth the trouble if the IIHS is right and a texting ban doesn’t do much.
Either way, it’s true enough that if you were texting while driving during an accident you’ll have an uphill battle ahead of you if you want to say you weren’t at fault. You’ll need a good personal injury attorney and some solid evidence if you want to make your case to the auto insurance adjuster and potentially the civil court.
At the law offices of Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, and Walsh, we offer our services to injured individuals looking for compensation after vehicle accidents, premises liability accidents, wrongful deaths, and other aspects of personal injury law. If you think you have a good case and you aren’t getting the compensation you deserve, and if you live in southwest Florida, contact us today for a free case review.