Texting While Driving In Florida

Student Writers: Christine H and Lauren M

Return to Fall 2010 Student Articles Menu


Is a simple text message worth someone’s life or the lives of others on the road? There are a few solutions to texting while driving; solutions that can save someone’s life and the lives of others. Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous and if someone takes their eyes off the road for even five seconds, can result in a major car accident and even death. This article focuses mainly on Florida, but also talks about this country as a whole. Texting while driving is a major problem with deadly risks and this article tells possible solutions. There is one simple solution and two software programs that can prevent one from texting while driving. These possible solutions can save thousands of lives while making the roads safer.


Texting has become a phenomenon over the last few years as increase in cell phone use has climbed. According to the research that was conducted texting has some benefits, but texting while driving has only risks. From watching this video below, it is apparent that the people would rather text on their phones than focus on activities in their lives.



Texting is also known as Short Message Service (SMS). Sending messages began on the computer as Instant Messaging (IM) and later showed up on cell phones, where people could send a text, mobile device to mobile device. This service has been gaining popularity since first released. Texting while driving is even more dangerous than ever before because of how common and popular texting is texting has soared from 9.8 billion messages a month in December ’05 to 110.4 billion in December ’08 (Austin,2009).

Benefits of texting

Sending text messages must have some benefits or else it would not be so popular. Some of the advantages of sending text messages is it is a time saver, saves money, gives people control, can be less distributive, and these messages can be recorded. Text messaging can be a huge time saver for those who do not have time to carry on a full-blown conversation. If someone called and said “can’t talk” and hung up, many people would be worried or think that person is being rude. A simple text message such as “TTYL (talk To You Later)” or a “can’t talk” gets the message across quickly, concisely, and without offense (West, 2007). Texting is just not a time saver, but also a money saver. Air time minutes are usually set in stone (i.e. 500 minutes and additional minutes can cost as much as forty cents apiece and most carriers have a choice of unlimited texting, some as low as five dollars extra a month (West, 2007). In some countries air-time and long distance rates are exceedingly higher than the cost of a single text message, making it much more affordable to have a text conversation over a traditional phone call (West, 2007). Texting can be a discreet mode of communication, especially when you are in situations where phone calls are inappropriate. Shooting a quick text during a meeting, class, movie, church is much less intrusive than talking on the phone or in person (West, 2007). Most phones can be set at vibrate or silent, but you wouldn’t be able to answer their call because talking on the phone in a movie is rude, but you can send a text massage back (West, 2007). Texting gives people more control and more control can help prioritize communications with others without having to think too long (West, 2007).When people receive text messages from several people in a brief amount of time; it gives them the ability to prioritize. For example, if someone receive a text message from a friend merely saying, “What’s up,” and one from another friend saying their car broke down, the ball is in the owners court to whom they will respond to first or at all whereas with a phone call you don’t know how important it is until you answer then people end up having to chat for social norms and may miss the important phone call from the friend whose car broke down (West, 2007).


While the above benefits explain why so many people love to text it seems that people do not understand that there are risks and deadly one at that with texting while driving. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5194271n There are few studies done on texting while driving because it is a relatively new phenomenon. However, all the studies done have proved that texting while driving is incredibly dangerous and worse than drunk driving. For example, According to Richtel (2009), a study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute had cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting (Richtel,2009). Below is a video describing the study and showing video of actual drivers.


Another study done by Austin (2009) compared the dangerous of texting while driving versus being intoxicated. To keep it simple, they only focused solely on the driver’s reaction times to a light mounted on the windshield at eye level, meant to simulate a lead car’s brake lights. The two subjects were Brown, 22, who used an iPhone, and Alterman, 37, used a Samsung Alias. They used a Honda Pilot as the test vehicle (Austin, 2009). When the red light on the windshield lit up, the driver was supposed to hit the brakes. Each trial would have the driver respond five times to the light, and the slowest reaction time was dropped from both drivers; they tested both drivers’ reaction times at 35 mph and 70 mph to get baseline readings, and then repeated the driving procedure while they read and sent text messages (Austin, 2009). After, the researchers had the subjects become intoxicated, they were then asked to blow into a Lifeloc FC10 breath-alcohol analyzer until it reached the illegal driving limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content. We then put them behind the wheel and ran the light-and-brake test without any texting distraction (Austin, 2009).
The graphs below show the results:


A summary of averages of the two subjects reaction times are: Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake legally drunk: add 4 feet reading a text: add 36 feet sending a text: add 70 feet before they braked (Austin, 2009). This study has revealed that texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking while driving and these results might be much worse if it wasn’t for limitations they had (Austin,2009). For example they were using a straight road without any traffic, road signals, or pedestrians, and we were only looking at reaction times (Austin, 2009).


Texting while driving seems like a harmless task yet is incredibly dangerous and the numbers of people who participate rise daily. There are no technological solutions yet, but there are many ideas and some even in the making. If possible, have a friend send your texts for you if there are multiple people in your car. Teens are admitting that they text while driving at high speeds. Society has instilled instant gratification into the minds of its people. They want information and they want it now. So, no wonder why teens and adults feel the need to get behind the wheel and stay connected to everyone around them. If possible, stop your vehicle, send a text, and then continue on. According to Johnston (2009), a potential solution is, a car key that when in the ignition, jams cell phone reception and text messaging signals of any cell phone in the vehicle. There are cons to this solution, in that; passengers cannot make calls or text as they are not the one behind the wheel. Another example is software that senses the cell phone is in a moving vehicle and sends all inbound calls to voicemail and prevents any non emergency outbound calls from the device. Text messages would be stored for delayed delivery. Again, this prevents any passengers from participating in the use of cell phones. With these two possible solutions it is not known as to what party would be billed for the use of the technologies (Johnston, 2009).


Too many people have become too accustomed to reading and sending a text while behind the wheel, even though it's as dangerous as drinking and driving. Thirty-six states do not ban texting while driving; including Florida. The issue has drawn attention after several recent highly publicized crashes caused by texting drivers, including an episode recently in May involving a trolley car driver in Boston who crashed while texting his girlfriend. Hopefully Florida lawmakers will ban texting while driving or think of solutions to stop this behavior in order to save lives.


Asino, T. (2009 October 8). Dangers Associated with Texting While Driving.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2263189/dangers_associated_with _texting_while.html?cat=7.

Austin, M. (2009, June). Texting while driving: How dangerous is it? Unprotected text: we investigate if sending messages on your phone while
driving is more LOL than OMFG. Retrieved from: http://www.caranddriver.com/features 09q2/texting_while_driving_how_dangerous _is

Chester, S. (2010, September 24). Study: texting while driving responsible for 16,000 deaths in 6 years. Retrieved from

Couric, K. (2009 July 28). Notebook: dangers of texting.CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. CBS News. Retrieved from

Freeden, J. (2009 December 22 ). Stop the Text Messaging While You're Driving. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/
article/2516825/stop_the _te xt_messaging _while_youre.html?cat=27

Johnston, B. (2009). Cell phones and choice architecture. Injury Prevention, 15(5), 289-290. doi:10.1136/ip.2009.024455.

Microsoft. (Producer). (2010, October 10). Really: New Windows Phone 7 Official Ad. YouTube. Video Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com

Richtel, M. (2009, July 27). In study, texting lifts crash risk by large margin. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com

West, J. (2007 December 6). Five benefits of text messaging in modern society. Retrieved from: http://socyberty.com/society/five-benefits-