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Texting and Driving: Does Banning it Increase Safety?

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Certainly, texting and driving at the same time can be dangerous. If you or a loved one have been injured because of someone negligently texting while driving, call J. Mark Dubose with our office right away. He can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Although thirty-five states and the District of Columbia already have bans on texting by all drivers operating motor vehicles, Florida is not one of them according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The Florida Legislature has been generally opposed to anti-texting bills on the basis that it would be an unnecessary government intrusion into people’s lives.

“There are already laws on the books that make it illegal to drive unsafely,” said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies for the libertarian Cato Institute. Florida has a “reckless driving” law which arguably covers texting while driving if done recklessly.

On the other hand, victims of car crashes caused by texting drivers see it differently. The federal government says a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash than one not texting, while AAA puts the figure at six times.

However, texting bans haven’t had an effect on the number of accidents in other states. A 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute said crashes didn’t decrease in states that banned texting by drivers, and in fact found that reported collisions went up slightly. One theory for the increase is that the bans actually make things worse by causing drivers, knowing it’s illegal, to move their phones down and out of sight when they text, thus taking their eyes further away from their driving.

Both sides of the anti-texting debate agree the real danger is “distracted driving.”

The Florida Driver’s Handbook lists “driving while calling, answering, talking or texting on a mobile phone” as bad habits that drivers should break. But the handbook also lists “driving when ill, upset or angry” and “driving while eating and drinking.”

Nonetheless, one in seven drivers have admitted to reading or sending a text message while driving. The figures are even higher for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

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