82% of Floridians Favor Enhanced Penalties for Drivers Who Cause Accidents because of Texting while Driving
Tampa Fla. (March 8, 2011) – Laws that ban texting while driving and improve traffic safety for children and teen drivers top AAA’s legislative agenda for 2011. AAA Auto Club South recently conducted a Public Affairs survey among Floridians to gauge their stance on several key traffic safety priorities, including booster seats and a ban on texting while driving.
As state legislatures deal with another year of severe budget challenges, safety improvements are a low or no cost way legislators can make their state a better place to live. Laws that reduce crashes, injuries and deaths can help reduce governments’ medical and emergency response costs.
AAA’s traffic safety priorities in Florida include:
Booster Seat Laws
Florida is one of three states that lack a booster seat requirement for children, which is proven to improve safety for young passengers. Current Florida law requires child restraint devices for children through the age of five, although for ages four through five, a safety belt may be used in lieu of a booster seat. The majority of survey respondents, 79 percent, favor a law requiring booster seats for children ages four to seven.
Teen Driver Safety
Although Florida has a Graduated Driver Licensing program for novice drivers, there are still opportunities to improve this life saving law. Significant improvements can be made such as banning the use of cell phones for novice drivers and placing restrictions on teen passengers for newly licensed teens. Only five states—Delaware, Indiana, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia—have Graduated Driver Licensing programs that meet AAA’s guidelines for nighttime limits, passenger limits, and driver education requirements. The majority (90%) of survey respondents support passenger restrictions for newly licensed teen drivers during their first year of driving, while 64 percent of respondents support having only one or no passengers. More than 8 out of 10 (83%) of respondents said they favor a formal driver education course in order for persons under the age of 18 to obtain a drivers license.
Texting while Driving Bans
In 2009, AAA launched a national campaign to pass laws that ban text messaging while driving in all 50 states. Eleven states enacted such laws in 2010, and 30 states with laws that prohibit drivers of all ages from texting while driving. AAA supports legislation that bans texting while driving in Florida. Survey respondents show a strong support for a ban on texting while driving for teens under 18 (86%) and for all adults (84%), respectively. The majority (82%) of respondents said they favor enhanced penalties such as points and higher ticket costs for drivers who cause an accident because they were texting and driving.
“Last year, close to a dozen states showed a strong commitment to traffic safety and enacted laws that ban texting while driving, in addition to increased safety improvements on core needs such as teen driver safety and child passenger safety,” said Kevin Bakewell, sr. vice president, Public & Government Relations, AAA Auto Club South. “AAA continues to work with legislators and other safety advocates to draft and pass legislation in 2011 that will make our roads safer.”
The AAA Auto Club South Public Affairs survey was conducted over the phone from February 17-22, 2011 among residents living in Florida. A total of 400 Floridians age 18 or older completed the survey. The survey has maximum margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.
AAA Auto Club South is the third largest affiliate of AAA, with 79 branch offices serving more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Middle/West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.
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