Absence of Distracted Driving Law Hurts State’s Safety Rating

A group of highway safety advocates is giving Florida a rating of “yellow” for its traffic safety laws, saying the state needs to do more to protect motorists.

In its recently released 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety provided its tenth annual report card that graded all 50 states on 15 fundamental traffic safety laws.

A “green” rating means the state has enacted satisfactory or “good” laws. A “yellow” rating means the state’s traffic laws need improvement. A “red” rating means the state is in danger of falling behind in their traffic laws.

This year, the report focused on several specific areas, including impaired driving and distracted driving.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety was formed in 1989 as an alliance of consumer, medical, public health and safety groups and insurance companies. Together, these groups encourage the adoption of federal and state laws to advance highway and auto safety.

Florida’s Distracted Driving Fight

Florida’s inability to enact legislation against cellphone use behind the wheel is hardly a new topic of discussion. Last month we wrote about a new bill being considered by Florida lawmakers to ban texting while driving. The measure marks the fourth time legislators have considered such a law.

Called the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” the bill, Senate Bill 52, and its companion proposal in the Florida House (HB13), are currently up for consideration.

Under the proposed law, punishment would include a non-moving violation and a fine of $30, with more severe penalties for causing a crash or collision while using a prohibited handheld device or for using such a device in any school zone.

Currently, there is some form of ban on distracted driving in 39 states. All of the states that received a “green” rating in this year’s Advocates report have at least some law prohibiting cellphone use behind the wheel.

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