Florida needs complete ban on cellphones while driving

On Oct. 1, Florida will join 41 other states with a no texting and driving law. But while gigantic billboards advertising the new law will be erected, according to the Tampa Bay Times, there will not be a considerable amount of effort from the state of Florida to help the general public understand the ban on texting and driving.

But aside from the lack of promotion for the new law, it will also be ineffective because of the lack of punch.

Law enforcement officers will only be able to stop a driver if they see them breaking some other law, such as speeding. They also cannot oblige drivers to surrender their phones as evidence or look through their phones.

If law enforcement is able to write a ticket at all, the penalties of texting while driving are $30 plus court costs for a first offense, and $60 for a second offense. Considering the numerous collisions and sometimes fatal injuries accountable from cellphone use, $30 would be a small price to pay.

Furthermore, the Florida ban will only forbid drivers from using their cellphones to text or email while driving, but the law does not prohibit them from using phones for GPS systems, music or other purposes while driving. The only way for the ban to be effective would be to ban cellphones completely.

In California and New York, there is a complete ban of all mobile devices for drivers, and this has been demonstrated to be very effective according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Each day in the U.S., more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and young people are especially at risk.

For drivers, texting can wait, and Florida needs to take a stand to completely ban phone use while driving.

Demi Danowit is a senior majoring in mass communications.