Distracted driving causes accidents that can be fatal.
Especially for younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20. Auto accidents remain the leading cause death for this group.
Moreover, statistics show that two out of three people killed in car accidents involving teen drivers are people other than the teens, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers, motorists and drivers of other cars involved.
In terms of distractions, nothing is worse than texting while driving, which, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes crashes 23 times more likely.
Yet a recent CDC analysis of teen cell phone use while driving found that over half of the 15,000 high school students in the study admitted to emailing or texting while driving.
While the study found positive results in teen seatbelt use and drunk driving statistics, the large proportion of texting teenagers has raised alarm in the traffic safety community, resulting in the passage of new state laws.
Right now, Florida is one of just six states without laws banning texting while driving. State Senator Maria Sachs wants to change that.
She has announced her sponsorship of a bill in the upcoming legislature that would make it a moving violation for drivers to use anything but hands-free devices while behind the wheel. A first offense would result in a $100 fine, with higher penalties for second and third offenses. Driver's license points would not be subtracted.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel along with the Florida Sheriff's Association supports the bill. Yesterday he joined Sachs at a demonstration of the effects of distracted driving at Broward College's Institute of Public Safety in Davie.
The minimal amount of time a driver’s attention is taken from the road when texting is 5 seconds.
If you were traveling at 55 miles per hour, you’d have driven the length of football field without looking where you were going.
In the demonstration yesterday, a deputy drove a Chevrolet Suburban at only 35 miles per hour. When he tried to change lanes while texting, he jerked the car, knocking down a half dozen traffic cones, and almost flipped over.
Volunteers using the college's driving simulator either swerved out of their lanes or crashed when they tried to follow instructions while texting.
The majority of states have banned texting while driving and some states have banned any use of cellphones or other electronic devices while driving.
In some states, texters who cause accidents may face jail time.
Alabama prohibits all drivers from texting behind the wheel. In addition, all drivers younger than 18 or driving under an intermediate license for less than six months are prohibited from using cell phones for any reason.
Despite these prohibitions, the CDC report suggests that most teens are not aware of the dangerous consequences of texting while driving. Experts say that in addition to improved enforcement of laws like the one Sachs had proposed, education is required to solve the crisis.
For more information: about the dangers of texting and driving