It appears that Florida may finally have a texting while driving law which will save lives and reduce traffic accidents. Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice who has nothing but good intentions, is the driving force behind this legislation. Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota is sponsoring the bill on the House side. A recent Mason-Dixon survey conducted in 2011 found that 71 percent of likely voters supported some type of ban. AARP recently released their latest poll of individuals 50 years of age and older which resulted in 93 percent in favor of a texting ban.
Politically this is a no brainer. However, there is just one problem. Texting bans do not work. In fact, studies have shown that not only are these laws difficult and nearly impossible to enforce they may actually increase accidents. According to studies in states which have passed such laws.
First, there are certain things we can safely assume. We all obey Florida traffic laws. We never speed, roll through stop signs, or race through an intersection under yellow. We always stop on red prior to turning right and women never put on makeup while driving. Therefore, we have every reason to believe individuals who text and drive will follow the new laws which prohibit such actions.
Enforcement- Pennsylvania police have come up with a unique way of enforcing their year old texting ban. If they see a driver make more than ten taps on a phone they assume the driver is texting. Unfortunately when they pull over the suspect the driver explains to the officer they were simply making a call. If a citation is issued there is an excellent chance the charges will be thrown out in court due to lack of evidence. http://tinyurl.com/acglflc Will the Detert/Holder bill provide for a search warrant to check the drivers phone? Will drivers be able to use their phone for navigation and as a phone?
Studies- A 2010 study by Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show no reduction in crashes after the laws were enacted. In fact, there is an increase in accidents. ”Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.”http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr092810.html
This study was conducted in 2010 and was presented to the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association, and confirmed previous studies which showed banning hand held phones did not prevent, but increased highway accidents. Other studies have found that once bans are enacted drivers simply lower their phones and text from their laps to avoid detection. http://tinyurl.com/9wokldk When a driver lowers the phone it increases the time a driver’s eyes are off the road and on the phone. Voice to text does not seem to help as they are not reliable and drivers check for mistakes and correct them.
Solution- As a conservative I am not inclined to solve all the world’s problems through legislation. It never works. I believe in personal responsibility and doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. I believe it is worthwhile to continue to educate all drivers as to the dangers of distracted driving. This is not a teenage issue. One study showed that 27 percent of adult and 26 percent of teenage drivers’ text or email while driving. This is not a problem a law will solve; it is up to the individual driver.
There is no doubt in my mind that Sen. Detert and Rep. Holder have the best intentions concerning texting while driving. However, as the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I just don’t want it to be paved with more traffic accidents and deaths.