We all know that distracted driving causes traffic accidents, many of which result in serious personal injury or even death. The stakes are very high for motorcycle riders who have nothing more to protect them in an accident than a helmet. However, there is some positive news. States that have passed strong bans on cell phone use while driving have also seen motorcycle rider fatality rates drop by up to 11 percent. Studies find a real connection between stronger laws and saving lives.
Motorcycle riders benefit from cell phone bans
Researchers did not report an over-all drop in traffic fatalities, but did discover an impact on the decreased number of crashes involving motorcycle riders. Their studies theorized a few reasons for this:
- The high rate of motorcycle rider fatalities. Motorcycle riders experience a high rate of serious personal injuries and accident fatalities compared to those involved in other accidents. Traffic accident deaths have declined over the years for automobiles, but not for those involving motorcycles.
- Distracted driving is riskier to motorcycle drivers. Motorcycle drivers have always struggled to be seen by drivers with whom they share the road. Unfortunately, distracted automobile drivers pay little attention to their surroundings and are much more likely to fail to notice a small vehicle like a motorcycle.
Argument for tough distracted driving laws
Distracted driving kills nine people in the U.S. every day, on average, and seriously injures over 1,000 people daily. Studies show that stronger laws and strict enforcement of those laws make a real difference. In fact, enforcement of distracted driver laws can mean the difference between life and death. Studies focused on accident rates related to tough distracted driver laws provide lawmakers with important tools to assist them when writing and passing improved legislation. These studies also inform law enforcement agencies as to the difference they make by enforcing these tough laws.
How do Florida fatality rates compare?
Florida has the highest motorcycle accident fatality rate in the nation. Fortunately, Florida saw a slight drop in the number of these fatalities from 2016 to 2017. While Florida does not have a complete ban on hand-held devices while driving, the state has enacted a ban on texting and driving as a "secondary offense,". That means the police will only cite a driver with texting and driving if first pulled over for some other offense. The Florida legislature may consider strengthening these laws in light of recent studies. Florida State Senator Wilton Simpson, R-Trillby, introduced a bill to do just that. The Florida House of Representatives was able to pass a similar bill before, but it was not passed by the Senate.
If you need a compelling reason to put down that cell phone while driving, think about your fellow motorists - especially those on less than 4 wheels. And if you are one of the many motorcycle enthusiasts on our Florida roads, watch out for distracted drivers - especially those using their cell phones. They are not watching out for you.