Florida is one of only 11 states that does not prohibit texting while driving. Though state legislators have already introduced 3 texting ban bills for the upcoming session, similar bills have failed in the past several years.
We asked members of the Public Insight Network what it’s like driving in Florida. Frank de la Rosa from Miami writes that when he’s riding his bike, he’s noticed many drivers who aren’t paying attention:
I'm constantly looking at approaching vehicles and most times the drivers are looking at their cell phones instead of the road. Many times drivers don't even realize that I'm riding a bike right next to them. It's scary.
Richa McCormick is a native Miamian but has driven in other parts of the country. She observes:
California has traffic even more dense that Miami but has nothing like the road rage one sees in South Florida.
That observation may be on the mark. According to the latest US census figures, Florida has a higher traffic fatality rate than the national average. California and New York had averages below the nation’s.
But how much is texting while driving responsible for perils of Florida driving? James Santoli from Miami points out other distractions:
I've seen it all. People blatantly reading the paper, putting on make-up, reaching back to spank their kids etc.
For South Florida, some like a caller Janet from Miami and PIN member Sue Pinsley from Miami think that the diversity of the population may have a role: the mix of tourists and residents from small American towns, Latin American metropolises and places with different traffic rules and norms make driving here so unpredictable.
While most were staunchly in favor of a texting ban, most also admitted that they used the phone while driving (though maybe it was hands-free?). Ina Topper from Tamarac explains:
Frankly, while I'm totally against texting (that's just plain stupid) using a cellphone on occasion cannot be avoided in FLA.
Of course, everyone could text, chat and even browse the Internet to their heart's content - without endangering anyone - if they rode public transit.