Be warned: cops from Florida to Maine are out in force this weekend (April 8 and 9), pulling over, warning and ticketing speeders, careless, reckless and distracted drivers as part of the Drive to Save Lives campaign. Highway troopers from every state along the eastern seaboard are participating, with a focus on I-95.
That means if you travel anywhere on the interstate this weekend, you’ll be in the troopers scopes. The effort–with the Drive to Save Lives initiatives implemented over previous or successive weekends in some states–is part of a broader awareness campaign to reduce crashes.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is urging motorists to keep their eyes on the road and focus on driving in an effort to reduce distracted driving crashes statewide. The Florida Highway Patrol is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association and AAA – The Auto Club Group to promote April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
In 2016, there were almost 50,000 crashes involving distracted driving in Florida, which is more than five crashes every hour. Last year, these distracted driving crashes accounted for more than 3,500 serious bodily injuries and 233 fatalities. Distracted driving crashes have increased 26 percent since 2013. (Texting and driving has been the focus of student initiatives in Flagler County in the past.)
“It takes about five seconds, on average, to read or send a text,” the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports. “Not a lot of time. But, in that span of time, with your eyes on your phone and not on the road, a vehicle travelling 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field. In that instant, over that distance, a life can be taken—maybe even yours. Distracted driving killed 3,477 people on America’s roads in 2015.” The administration adds: “If you’re caught texting and driving you’ll be pulled over and ticketed because you’re putting your life and your neighbors’ lives at risk.”
In Florida, however–a state that routinely draws poor marks for highway safety laws–texting at the wheel is not a primary offense, but a secondary offense, which means that cops are not permitted to pull over a driver merely for texting. The texting offense may be added to a primary offense, like speeding or not wearing a seat belt. But it may not be the cause of the traffic stop. Lawmakers in Florida have repeatedly tried to make texting while driving a primary offense. They have failed so far.
Linda Johnsen says
While I understand the reasoning behind this plan for the weekend crackdown on dangerous driving, I also feel that warning people to be careful can have the same effect as careless and distracted driving.
Many drivers will be trying to do their distracting things as well as looking to not get busted.
Is this a legal requirement to announce this, or a supposed courtesy? I am curious how much this will
cost and if this will only help for one weekend? I do not see notices stating where officers will be placed
to look for speeders .I very seldom see an officer at a school bus stop.
Is it possible that there is another use for this money? Honestly, this is just how I feel, though I am certain
I am not alone… I am curious if this would be better with no warnings and heads up. Just people doing the
things they normally do and getting popped. The impact would stun them into reality a bit more in my opinion.
Florida laws are very lax anyway and having an occasional, publicized crackdown is temporary.
I am not putting down the male and female officers as they are doing their job. I am concerned about
the “State Government” and the reasoning behind this.
P.S. IT IS NOT ONLY THE TEENS, BELIEVE ME.
Just get people NOT to use there cell phones while they drive and the stats will be cut in half.Another quarter will drop if lazy ass drivers would use a turn signal when turing or changing lanes.This would help with road rage incidents.
Linda Johnsen says
I agree with you and could name many other ideas to stop this madness on the roads.
Attempting to get people to not use their cell phones while on the road is hugely important.
The problem being is people just cannot leave their phones alone even in the bathroom. LOL.
While you and I get this, many DO NOT. It only takes seconds for something to happen and
it is irreversible once it does. Like a DUII.. It cannot be turned around… I have a cheesy phone,
but it does ring or a text comes in while I am driving.. I am very grateful to say that I can resist
the urge to respond.
If I feel some need to know who is on my phone, I find a safe spot to pull over…
There is a You Tube video that is cute, yet relevant.. It is called “Look Up”.While the video is not about
things being done on the road, it is very interesting to see what is and can be missed while having ones
face and eyes glued to a PHONE.
Smokies out en force
Woody, should we just get people to stop eating and drinking behind the wheel also? How about not using the radio? Driving with crying kids in the car, maybe just not driving with kids period. Where do you suggest drawing the line on preventing distraction?
IIn response to Fredrick
I have always felt that the hunting dog cages that hunters use to transport their hounds would suit the same purpose to get the kiddies to school, soccer practice etc.. etc.
Let Mommy enjoy her Egg McMuffin in Peace , while texting her mother-in-law about her No -Good Son, while kicking it at 85mph down 95 S.
Hope they get some of the a holes that weave in and out like they are NASCAR drivers.
nicky newark says
best one i ever saw was a lady making a left turn with the phone held between her left shoulder and ear while holding a baby bottle in her right hand feeding a kid in a rear seat.
Traveling Rep says
It is incredible how many people I see texting on the highways, while driving. It is such a danger to themselves and all of the other drivers around them. Not to mention the complete lack of respect for any of the drivers around them. I constantly find myself forced to pass someone who won’t move out of the left (passing) lane, by overtaking on the right. In almost every case, when I look over they have their eyes glued to the phone and flappy fingers texting away. Occasionally they may look up at me as if to say “what?”. How self absorbed are you that you can’t follow the rules of the road. I mean it is not like you are driving a 1 ton piece of metal at 70 MPH while completely consumed with your digital life instead of the road?, Oh, wait…
I hate to say it, but I doubt people will stop until it affects them individually – by having someone close to them have a tragic accident while texting.
The analogy that Frederick makes to crying kids and eating while driving are no where near as distracting IMO – albeit they are indeed a distraction. The difference is that you can listen to a kid cry with your eyes on the road and you can eat with your eyes on the road.
Concerned Citizen says
It’s amazing that people will complain that law enforcement does nothing to make our roadways safer. Yet when they do get out and try there will always be critics.
Do you realize how many folks they snag with no insurance or suspended licenses? Those are cit-able offenses until the State changes the laws and I hope they don’t.
I don’t really want to share the road with someone that can’t keep a valid DL or the required insurance on a vehicle.
Maybe just maybe the increased presence will slow down the aggressive and reckless driving I see on a daily basis. That includes speeding and disregarding stop signs which seems to be the going thing these days.
In regards to distracted driving and some of the snarky comments. Can you really not drive to to your destination without trying to text or use an Ipad or other device?
I don’t know about you all but with smart phones and the screens now days I can hardly see in the sun while walking. I don’t even try in the car.
It only takes a few seconds to take your eyes off the road and try to reply to that text THAT CAN WAIT. Those few seconds usually end up causing an irrevocable change of events that turns everyone’s life around. And not for the better.
Case in point: The recent church bus accident in Texas. 13 senior citizens were killed when their bus was struck by a pickup truck. The driver of the pickup admitted to texting while driving.
Just some food for though next time your phone chirps and you’re tempted to unlock your screen try to read the text then reply all while driving.
I promise it can wait those few minutes it takes for you to hopefully pull over or get to your destination.
I lost a friend years ago in an accident that involved texting and driving. I want to see all of us commenters on here safe and sound to provide commentary every week :)
Sandra Lemacks says
They should make bluetooths MANDATORY when in any vehicle.If your phone is in your hand while moving it should be an automatic ticket, no warnings. It’s that dangerous.