Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers is Difficult But Public Education Can Help
Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous behavior, and more states than ever before are taking steps to try to reduce the number of people on the roads who are distracted by cell phones and electronic devices. In fact, the Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report entitled "2013 Distracted Driving: Survey of the States" indicating that there has been a 45-percent increase in the number of states with texting bans in place for all drivers as compared with just three years ago.
Florida became one of the states with a texting law this year when Governor Scott signed a texting ban into law after five years of attempts to get such a law passed. Florida's ban is relatively weak, allowing for drivers to text when stopped in traffic or at traffic lights and making texting a secondary offense with a fine of only $30 plus court costs for a first-time offender. Still, the fact that texting is now illegal means that those injured in a texting accident may have an easier time of recovering compensation with the help of an auto accident lawyer in West Palm Beach since negligence per se rules allow victims to prove negligence by pointing to a law that the other driver broke.
While the law may help accident victims to recover compensation, however, it may be difficult for police to enforce. In fact, as the Huffington Post recently reported, texting laws in general are difficult to enforce, even in states that have taken a very tough stance on fighting distracted drivers. The difficulty of enforcing these laws means that many people continue to text even though it is illegal. It has also led some to suggest that distracted driving may be best prevented by strong public education campaigns similar to those led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which have helped to dramatically reduce the number of deaths due to intoxicated motorists.
Distracted Driving Laws Hard to Enforce
Although 41 states and D.C. had laws banning texting for all drivers as of the time of the GHSA's 2013 report on distracted driving, the Huffington Post reports that there are still 666,000 Americans using electronic devices while driving at any given daylight hour. The high number of people using gadgets while behind the wheel may be explained, in part, by the difficulty in actually preventing people from texting. The head of the California Highway Patrol explained the difficulty by saying that police have to actually observe the driver texting in order to pull him over, rather than just seeing someone looking down for several seconds. When traveling on a freeway, it can be really hard for law enforcement to be able to see this, especially if drivers know texting is illegal and aren't obvious about what they are doing. This could help to explain why the number of people found to be on their phones in an AAA study of the state revealed that phone use actually increased 126 percent from the time prior to the ban to 2013.
Since the laws there are much stricter than in Florida -- it is a primary offense in that state not a secondary one, and even entering information into a phone GPS is a violation of the distracted driving laws-- the fact that enforcement is difficult in CA does not bode well for the rest of the country.
While enforcement will always be difficult, some are trying an alternative to fighting distracted driving: treating it like drunk driving and increasing the stigma associated with distracted driving behaviors. The Economist reports that one woman who lost her mother to a distracted driving accident has launched "FocusDriven," a group modeled on Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to help combat distracted driving risks. CNN also reported that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have also teamed up to make a powerful documentary putting a human face on distracted driving.
Hopefully efforts such as these can help the public to become more aware that distracted driving is just not worth the risk to their own life or to the lives of others on the roads.
If you've been injured , contact an auto accident lawyer in West Palm Beach. Call David J. Glatthorn today at 800-990-9394 for a free case review.