Driving to the store, your phone beeps, alerting you to a text message. It’s your spouse, reminding you to pick up milk. You start typing a response, glancing at the road every few seconds — and happen to spot a small child running into the street. Slamming on your brakes, you stop just in the nick of time.
In this instance, you were lucky but what if you had not glanced up in time? You undoubtedly know it’s never a good idea to send a text message while driving, as taking your attention off of the road for even a moment can lead to a serious accident. However, according to numerous studies, over half of all adult drivers continue to text while behind the wheel — even though they understand the danger.
If you are among the 50% who text while driving, here are three reasons you should put the cell phone away until you get to your destination.
Testing is Deadlier than Drinking and Driving
According to an October 2013, study by King’s College in Pennsylvania, texting while driving is more dangerous than driving after drinking alcohol. In 2012, 2,700 teenagers were killed as a result of drunk driving crashes, while 3,000 teens died as a result of texting-related crashes.
One reason for these fatalities is that texting slows a drivers’ reaction time. According to research by the Texas Transportation Institute, reaction times more than doubled when drivers were texting behind the wheel. Texting also impacts a driver’s ability to control their speed and stay in their lane, meaning that, when a car suddenly pulls out or stops, you don’t have as much time to stop or swerve, increasing the likelihood of a crash.
It’s Illegal in Florida
You consider yourself a law-abiding citizen; you don’t even cross against the light or remove the tag from your mattress. But if you text while driving in Florida, you’re breaking the law. The Sunshine State is one of 41 states that have passed laws prohibiting drivers from sending texts while driving. If you are caught testing behind the wheel, you could face stiff penalties — even if you don’t have a car accident.
Getting caught driving while texting can cost you. Currently, Florida law makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning an officer cannot stop you simply for texting. However, if you are texting behind the wheel and are pulled over for speeding (or another moving violation), you may be ticketed for both infractions, with fines ranging from $30 to $60 — plus court costs. If you are caught texting in a school zone or cause a crash, you also face points on your DMV record, increasing your insurance costs or potentially leading to a license suspension or revocation. However, new legislation is currently under consideration that would make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning you can be pulled over if an officer spots you texting while driving — and potentially increase the fines.
It’s simple, texting behind the wheel in Florida means you could pay fines, and – if you cause an accident — pay more for insurance, face a civil lawsuit, or even jail time.
The best way to avoid tragedy caused by a text message is to keep your phone out of reach or turned off until you get where you’re going. If you absolutely must send a message, pull over to a safe spot before typing. Those few extra moments could literally save lives.