Distracting driving is nothing new. For years Florida residents have suffered serious personal injury in auto accidents caused by drivers not paying attention to the road. One innovative and driven Palm Beach County seventh-grader is making headlines while trying to do something about the distracted driving problem.
Calling Out Distracted Drivers
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Mia Evans from Boca Raton is on patrol and looking to curb texting behind the wheel. Her campaign is a simple one. Every morning, when her mother is driving her to school, Mia keeps her eyes peeled for the indicators of texting while driving.
Mia says she spots the tell-tale signs several times every day on the ride to school. She sees drivers looking down at their laps or their steering wheels, as their cars swerve, slow down at the improper times, and pass other cars at unsafe distances.
Once an offender is spotted, the next phase of Mia’s driver safety campaign takes effect. The precocious and community-minded Mia has printed hundreds of posters shaped like stop signs, and she uses them to remind inattentive motorists there are other people on the road. These signs read “Caught Ya! Stop Texting & Driving,” and, apparently, they work. Most people put away their phones after getting busted.
Mia got the idea to combat texting while driving after seeing how upset the problem made her mother. Dedicated to spreading her project outside of her region, Mia has made the signs available to purchase for $5 on her Facebook page so people nationwide who are worried about distracted driving can take advantage of Mia’s strategy. Signs have been sent all over the country, including Texas, Oklahoma, New York, and California. Mia is donating all proceeds from her safety campaign to local charities that shuttle elderly and disabled residents to religious services that they could not drive to without help.
Distracted Driving in Florida – Not a New Problem
For years, the National Transportation Safety Board decried the use of cellphones behind the wheel, even going so far to call the trend an “epidemic” and the “New DUI.” In 2010, NSTB statistics put the number of distracted driving related fatalities at 3,092. This prompted a recommendation that all states ban the use of cell phones by drivers. Additionally, the NSTB urged strict enforcement and awareness campaigns (perhaps like Mia’s) to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving.
The Florida Legislature Took Action
Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a texting while driving ban into law. However, some say that the ban does not go far enough to stop reckless behavior on Florida’s roads. The nature of the ban makes texting while driving a secondary offense. This means that officers cannot pull over drivers for texting behind the wheel alone. First, officers must observe a different offense, like speeding, before they have lawful authority to pull over distracted drivers and issue a citation.