Texting and driving – the epidemic that most people know to avoid is still one of the number one causes of car accidents in the world. People still text, go on Facebook, check Instagram, and still even answer calls while driving – even with the conveniences like Bluetooth.
Recently, there was an incident in Ohio where a young driver, Natasha Boggs, wandered off the road and hit two teenage girls, ending their lives, all because she was texting and driving. Two lives lost because sending a text was more important than paying attention to the road. The young woman who was not under any influence like drugs or alcohol got a six year sentence. The mother of one of the victims expressed her opinion that six years was far too little to be punished for ending two lives that will never get the chance to travel, graduate, go to college, etc. The blog post done by Thurswell Law School stated that too many people don’t see texting as an impairment while driving when it is. Boggs’ ability to pay attention to the task at hand, which was operating her vehicle, was weakened and impaired by her choice to text while driving. Ultimately, they are implying that texting and driving penalties – especially if lives are lost – ought to be as severe as drunk driving. If the girl were to be under the influence, she would surely get more than a six year sentence.
The same blog post stated the statistics that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes every year, one of every four car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting while driving. Someone who is texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than someone who is driving while drunk. In drunk driving cases you see normal sentences anywhere from two to 15 years and up. With texting and driving, you can usually see no punishment, to a few days in jail, up to 30 days or a couple years; the sentences should be longer for texting and driving cases.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving under the influence. There should be more severe consequences for texting and driving.
Florida just passed a new law that started in 2020; a first texting offense will be punishable by a $30 fine and court fees. A second offense carries a $60 fine, court costs and related fees, and three points on a driver’s license. A first offense involving texting in school or construction zones also carries additional license points. First offenders can purchase hands-free Bluetooth devices, show proof of purchase, and complete a “Driver Safety Education” course in order to avoid fines and license penalties. These consequences are only for being caught texting and driving, not anything severe. Some people still think that consequences are not enough and need to be stricter.
I decided to ask the students of West Boca High School a series of questions on the issue. When asked what they thought about the new law, many stated they were fine with the law and felt this was a step in the right direction. I also asked what they thought on the issue and if they believe texting and driving penalties should be as severe as drunk driving. A lot of students’ responded saying that texting and driving is not as severe as drunk driving and explained that even though texting and driving is a serious problem, it was more inconsiderate and unsafe to drive drunk. However, texting and driving is also inconsiderate and unsafe, even more so. Texting and driving is just as much of a choice as getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.