According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, over 37,000 people died in car crashes during 2017 (the most recent year with published statistics), and over 2.7 million people sustained injuries. Driving is an inherently dangerous activity, and many states, including Florida, have passed laws that aim to reduce possible dangers on the road like distracted driving. 

Distracted driving is an increasing cause of serious accidents, with cell phone use being one of the highest culprits. 

What is distracted driving? 

Distracted driving is participating in any activity that requires drivers to divide their attention from the task of driving. This might include eating, drinking, engaging too much with passengers or paying attention to a device like a cell phone. Based on data collected, the NHTSA estimates that over 5% of drivers on the road are using a cell phone at any given moment during the day. Texting and driving is a notorious cause of distracted driving. The NHTSA compares reading or sending a text for five seconds while driving 55 mph, to driving the length of a football field with eyes closed. The risk for serious injury or death due to a car accident significantly increases with distracted driving. 

Are there laws against distracted driving? 

Florida state statutes ban texting while driving, but the law extends beyond texting. It is illegal to manipulate a handheld electronic device manually while driving. This would include reading, emailing, texting, instant messaging or any other form of entering text on a communications device. Law enforcement can pull over and issue a citation to anyone they see violating this law. The intent is to keep roads safer. Unfortunately, distracted driving still causes a large number of serious car accidents.