Texting While Driving – The Next DUI
Admit it. You’ve done it before. You’ve received and read texts or emails on your cell phone while behind the wheel of your car. You’ve even snuck in typing a response while stopped at the red light, and God forbid, while the car was actually moving. It seems innocent enough but studies are showing the potentially deadly results of the newly recognized offense of “texting while driving.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released data estimating motorists who talk or text on their cell phones caused approximately 995 fatalities and 240,000 automobile accidents in 2002. 80% of all accidents are caused by the driver’s failure to pay attention while driving. Cell phone using drivers were as likely to cause a collision as an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.
Washington lawmakers are pushing for federal laws prohibiting sending and viewing text messages while driving due to increased findings of accidents resulting in injury or death as a result of cell phone related distractions. Florida lawmakers are also taking notice. Currently, there are fourteen states that prohibit texting while driving but similar legislation in Florida has failed for the past two years. In late July 2009, Florida legislatures introduced legislation that would ban texting while driving. The proposed bill requires states to ban texting or risk losing funding for federal highways.
A Car and Driving magazine study concludes that texting while driving is actually more dangerous than driving while drunk! Studies show that to type a text message, a driver must take his eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. This amounts to the time it takes to drive the length of a football field if travelling at 55 miles per hour. Studies also show that using a wireless, “hand held” device does not appear to make driving while using a cell phone any less risky, which may come as a surprise to some people. The point is that, when it comes to electronic devices, a distracted driver is a distracted driver.
Our fast-paced, warp-speed society is largely to blame for the onslaught of drivers distracted by electronic gadgets and cell phones. Because texting while driving is so common and seemingly harmless, people generally do not take appropriate measures to avoid reading or typing while driving until a serious accident or a close call occurs. Lawmakers believe that legislature banning these acts will minimize these presently rampant practices because fines or arrest will effectively deter the violators.
We at the Rooth Law Group, see every day the often tragic effects of a decision to drive under the influence. Because texting while driving is similarly dangerous and avoidable, we urge all drivers to refrain from this all too-common practice. Your life and limb, or an innocent stranger’s, is simply not worth the risk. Contact our experienced St. Petersburg DUI attorneys at Rooth Law Group to help you if you find yourself charged with a DUI.