Two years ago, an estimated 5,479 people were killed in the United States due to distracted drivers—most of them involving texting and driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Texting still remains legal in Florida.
“The reality is, that by the time 2011’s statistics roll around, many more people will have been killed,” said David Ramil, Public Information Officer for the Department of Transportation’s District 6.
In an effort to curb texting while driving, the Florida DOT has been working with Miami Dade College
and schools across the state to promote the nationwide campaign, Put It Down. The campaign was introduced to MDC students in early September by the DOT’s District 6 team.
Officers hosted a table at each campus where they explained the hazards of texting and driving, gave away items, and had students sign petition cards pledging to put their cell phones down while driving.
“By signing the petition card, students are making a commitment not only to themselves but to their family and friends to seriously put it down,” Wolfson Campus Student Life Director Teresa Reigosa said.
The United States Department of Transportation, whose other campaigns include Click It Or Ticket and You Drink You Lose, is focusing on getting texting and driving to become banned altogether.
“Technology has changed the game. This wasn’t an issue 10 years ago. Today it’s one of the greatest distractions on the road,” Ramil said.
Increasing death and accident rates throughout the years are what have transformed texting and driving into such a frowned-upon act.
Research shows that 20% of injury crashes in 2009 were due to distracted driving; 995 of those involved cell phone use by drivers under the age of twenty, according to NHTSA.
NHTSA studies also show that using a cell phone while driving delays the driver’s reaction as much as when having a blood alcohol level at the legal limit of 0.8%.
“I do it all the time. I’ve never gotten into an accident or been pulled over, so I tend to never think twice about it,” nineteen-year-old Kendall Campus student Rosalba Daniel said.
Although texting and driving is illegal in certain states, the Preemption Law prohibits localities from enacting distracted driving bans in Florida.
“We just want to get people to understand that this is a growing problem,” Ramil said. “People aren’t aware that a simple text such as ‘I’ll meet you in five minutes’ can potentially cost them their life.”
5,479 people were killed in the United States due to distracted drivers
20% of injury crashes in 2009 were due to distracted driving; 995 of those involved cell phone use by drivers under the age of twenty.
Using a cell phone while driving delays the driver’s reaction as much as when having a blood alcohol level at the legal limit of 0.8%.