As of midnight on Monday, Florida is now the 41st state to ban texting while driving. The law, officially called the “Wireless Communications Device Prohibition,” is intended to improve roadway safety and prevent crashes related to distracted driving. Many believe this legislation is a long time coming. In a 2010 Florida Department of Transportation survey about Florida’s most serious traffic problems, the majority of respondents listed distracted driving as number one.
Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means police must pull a driver over for another offense before writing a texting citation. The fine for first time violators is also relatively small – only $30.00. Additionally, the law has a handful of significant exceptions. For instance, you can still use your phone for navigational purposes, one-push functions are fair game, and it’s still okay to text as long as your vehicle is stopped.
While some critics question the efficacy of listing texting as a secondary offense, the law is still a step in the right direction. In the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury, cell phone billing records for each party can now be subpoenaed as evidence of distracted driving. This alone should make drivers think twice before pulling out their phones behind the wheel.