In a public-private partnership with GEICO, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) unveiled a new campaign to help curb the problem of distracted driving on
Florida’s roadways. Sixty four different “Safe Phone Zones” were designated on various roadways throughout Florida. A map of all of the “Safe Phone Zones” throughout Florida can be found online by clicking here. You will be able to pull off into these zones and make cellular phone calls or respond to text messages in safety – just look for the following sign.
Assistant Secretary of FDOT, Brian Blanchard explained, “motorist safety is our top priority and we are committed to reducing distracted driving on our roads.” However, do these signs encourage drivers to put down their phones and pull off to a rest area? Research has suggested that initial bans or initiative to curb cell phone use does reduce auto-accidents and fatalities, but that the public concern fades over time.
Does Florida need to consider a more stringent restriction on mobile cell phone use? In 2013, Florida Statute, § 316.305, was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, making it a secondary non-criminal traffic offense to text message and drive. A secondary offense means that in order to be cited for this violation, a driver must already have committed a traffic violation. This law only covers “manual typing” and not looking at the screen or even talking on a cell phone. Also, since 2012, auto accidents that have been somewhat linked to cell phone use have gone up 25%. With every new driver being more connected to their phone, that number will likely continue to rise without stricter rules and better education.
However, the “Safe Phone Zone” initiative is another way Florida is attempting to address the problem of distracted driving. Whether or not this will be effective in deterring drivers from creating dangerous situations will be closely monitored because on average, states that have a strictly enforced ban on average, a 3% reduction in traffic fatalities.