Will Text Bans Protect Teen Drivers?

Written by on June 27, 2013 in Family - No comments | Print this page

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drive and textAs cell phones and digital devices have become so essential to everyday life, unfortunately, careless disregard in using these gadgets has caused many more vehicle accidents than ever before.

In fact, studies regularly claim that drivers are at least 23 times more likely to become involved in a vehicle crash while texting, far surpassing drunk driving crashes and fatalities.

As a result, laws have been enacted in most states to minimize some of the harmful secondary effects of texting while driving, mainly centering around the use of devices.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving crashes have far exceeded drunk driving in the nation for many years. For example, last year, approximately 4,841 vehicle crashes in Florida during 2012 were due to texting or using an electronic device, according to authorities.

Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone driving restrictions. According to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, the leading cause of death for teens is texting and driving accidents.

That is why an estimated 3,000 teens die in vehicle accidents caused due to texting while driving every year, according to a CBS New York study.

An additional estimated 300,000 teens are treated in hospitals for related injuries. With that said, in major Florida cities like Panama, Orlando, and Miami car crash attorney firms also saw a spike in legal consultations regarding texting and driving offenses.

Text Bans

Despite a study by the University of Utah showing that distracted driver reactions are as delayed as drunken drivers, some states have yet to ban texting while driving.

Until May 8, 2013, Florida was one of those states. However, after five tries, Florida lawmakers were finally able to pass its new texting ban.

The law signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott will go into effect as of October 1, 2013.

Penalties

Penalties for texting while driving throughout the United States vary widely.

For instance, according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states with the more severe penalties include:

  • Alaska cites up to a $10,000 fine
  • Utah has a $750 fine and 90 days in jail
  • Maine fines up to $500
  • Wisconsin has a $400 fine
  • New York imposes a $235 fine

Wisconsin and New York also add points to the violator’s driver’s license. Other state fines include:

  • Virginia and Iowa $30
  • Indiana $35.50
  • Delaware and Pennsylvania $50

In the state of Florida, the new texting while driving law will be considered as a secondary offense. Only when drivers are stopped for another offense, can they be ticketed.

A first offense will bring a $30 penalty, with subsequent offenses rising to $60 in addition to court costs. Also, after the first offense, three points will be added to the offender’s driving record.

Text Ban Effectiveness

While the new laws appear to be deterring people from texting while driving, many people are still engaging in this dangerous activity.

A survey from AAA reported that 94 percent of drivers do consider texting while driving very dangerous, however, over one third of those surveyed admitted to regularly reading texts or email while driving.

Since the laws banning texting are relatively new, it is not yet possible to determine their overall effectiveness.

It is surmised that as people become more aware of the laws, citations will most likely dwindle, similar to drunk driving laws and penalties. However, it is also apparent that penalties will continue to stiffen until the number of people engaging in distracted driving significantly decreases.

Jamica Bell is a freelance writer with 3 teen drivers. She contributes this article to promote safe driving among teens. Steinger, Iscoe, and Green is a Miami car crash attorney firm that represents a host of clients in need of legal assistance; including new teen drivers charged with texting and driving. This legal team uses all of its experience and resources available to provide peace of mind to their clients and loved ones.

Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/9Hb3L3

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