Our blog has dealt with distracted driving on several occasions - whether due to mobile phones or ever-more-sophisticated dashboard technology, distractions are a serious safety problem for Miami and the rest of Florida. This post will introduce a series that focuses on distracted driving for the next several weeks.
As many readers will likely believe, Florida is a special place. However, our state stands out in one dangerous way: it is one of only five states in the U.S. that does not have a law to ban texting and driving. Texting behind the wheel is one of the leading sources of dangerous driving distractions - our lack of a comprehensive ban puts drivers at serious risk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving-related crashes kill more than 3,000 Americans every year. Around 500,000 other people suffer serious injuries. As a result, the NHTSA emphatically recommends that all states enact texting and driving bans.
Florida legislators have tried to pass a ban in each of the last four years. But despite strong support from 71 percent of Florida voters, each of the proposed laws has failed to receive enough support in the legislature. According to news sources, some key legislators pointed to concerns about "government regulating private behavior."
Other critics point out that texting is just one cause of distracted driving - they say that it makes no sense to prohibit one activity without dealing with the others. Given the scale of distracted driving-related accidents and fatalities, however, it probably makes more sense to start somewhere and build on the experiences of other states. After all, Florida has 45 existing models from which to choose.
Check back over the next few weeks for more discussion of distracted driving in Florida.
Source: NBC 6 South Florida, "Florida One of 5 States Without a Texting and Driving Ban," Myram Masihy, Feb. 28, 2013