Florida Bans Texting and Driving, But What About Social Media Posts, Pictures and Tweets?
Florida has taken an important first step in curtailing the deadly habit of texting and driving, but should Florida legislators have done more? Last month the Sunshine State joined 39 other states to make texting and driving illegal. Unfortunately, the new Florida law is being criticized because of its lackadaisical approach to the idea of texting and driving.
Police departments should be able to use the new law to encourage safe driving habits and the prevention of auto accidents. However, the new law is currently just a secondary offense, which is only relevant when a driver is caught in the act of committing another more serious traffic infraction, like causing a crash, speeding or running a red light. This “after the fact” approach seriously undermines the effectiveness of the new ban on texting while driving.
Furthermore, many are curious why the new law doesn’t address many of the other activities motorists are doing in the car. The new law deals only with written communication. This includes manually sending or reading information using a wireless device, which is conduct associated with texting, emailing and instant messaging. Text messages and phone calls are relatively easy to sort through on a cell phone bill, but how do we decipher how many Instagram pictures you saw while driving or “Likes” drivers are giving their friends’ photos? Plainly, the law is silent as to the various streams of data that a cell phone is capable of receiving.
How about YouTube, Netflix and other video streaming services? Think that it’s crazy a driver would watch a video on their portable device? I have witnessed it personally! While the driver may be able to divide their attention on a long stretch of road, how would they be able to react to a sudden occurrence on the road, like a tire blowout, scattered debris, other drivers’ negligence and accident avoidance?
Research shows that distracted driving can adversely impact one’s consciousness and focus just as much as driving drunk (a condition some researchers refer to as “inattention blindness”). The reckless and negligent nature of these behaviors should be addressed by better and more applicable legislation.