Distracted driving causes devastating accidents, prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recommend all states ban the use of phones in vehicles entirely. At least 35 states have already enacted prohibitions on texting while driving, but not Florida.
It’s no secret that texting while driving is dangerous. Distracted driving causes devastating accidents, prompting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recommend all states ban the use of phones in vehicles entirely. At least 35 states have already enacted prohibitions on texting while driving, but not Florida.
Efforts to enact a texting ban in Florida have failed several times, most recently in 2012. Observers say the Legislature views a ban on texting as an unwanted government intrusion into a personal decision. The lack of a ban leaves drivers free to text behind the wheel without the threat of punishment — and that includes teen drivers, who already have an elevated risk of being injured or killed in automobile accidents.
Teens Are Texting and Driving
Without a law requiring teens to stay away from their phones on the road, parents, educators and others who are concerned with teen safety have their work cut out for them. Teens communicate more often by text than other forms of communication, creating the potential for devastating accidents on the road.
In a recent AT&T survey, 97 percent of teen drivers said texting while driving is dangerous. Yet 43 percent of teens in the survey admitted to texting while driving, and 73 percent admitted to glancing at their phones when waiting at a traffic light.
What Parents Can Do
Florida parents already worry about the safety of their children on the road. Talking to teen drivers about texting while driving can help prevent accidents. The federal government created a website specifically to encourage people not to text and drive. It offers these tips for parents:
• Discuss safe driving with your teenagers. • Set ground rules when your teen is driving, including staying off the phone while on the road. • Be an example. Put your phone in the glove compartment when you get in the car. • Consider having every member of your family make a pledge to drive without distractions.
The site, distraction.gov, has pledges available for download, along with other brochures and safety tips.
‘Four Little Letters’
In addition to parental involvement, there are other resources available for teen drivers. AT&T promotes safe driving with a “Txting & Driving … It Can Wait” campaign. In the most recent tour, students in 30 cities, including Jacksonville, Florida, learned of the dangers of texting through driving a simulator, a vehicle with a virtual reality head set designed to provide a realistic example of how an accident can happen when drivers look away for even a second.
They also saw a haunting video of teens, parents and law enforcement officials explaining the consequences of texting while driving, the Florida Times-Union reported. One girl in the video said she will never get over how her sister was killed in a car accident while the two texted each other.
“ ‘Yeah.’ Four little letters. That's what killed her,” the girl said.
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