FLHSMV launches distracted driving awareness campaign

~ The month-long campaign urges motorists to Put it Down and Focus on Driving ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) today launched the Put it Down. Focus on Driving campaign. The month-long public awareness campaign aims to educate Florida motorists to avoid distracted driving, inform them of current distracted driving laws, and encourage individuals to Take the Pledge to help keep Florida’s roadways safe.

“Far too often, we see tragedies that could have been prevented if motorists had simply kept their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while driving,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Together, we can make our roads safer by pledging to drive distraction free. Our passengers deserve better, other vehicles on the road deserve better, Florida’s law enforcement and first responders deserve better, and we as motorists owe it to them to be safe.”

Preliminarily in 2020, there were more than 48,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida – 75% of which were caused by the driver being inattentive behind the wheel. These crashes resulted in nearly 300 fatalities and more than 2,700 serious bodily injuries. On average in 2020, there were more than 900 distracted driving crashes every week across our state. For additional data information, visit FLHSMV’s Distracted Driving Crash Dashboard.

“Driving a vehicle on our roadways is a task that requires our full attention, all of the time. When we aren’t focused on driving, it limits our ability to come to a stop or simply slow down and move over when approaching a dangerous situation,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Make it a priority to eliminate distractions every time you get behind the wheel. I am confident that working together, we can avoid the senseless tragedies that occur on our roadways every day from driving distracted. Remember, the life you save may be yours or one of your loved ones.”

Distracted driving is anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or mind off driving. It is extremely risky behavior that puts everyone on the road in danger. There are different kinds of driver distractions:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive – thinking about anything other than driving

Texting requires all three types of distraction, making it one of the most dangerous of distracted driving behaviors. However, this is not the only cause of distracted driving. Other common distractions include: Tending to kids or passengers in the back seat, eating, watching an event outside of the vehicle, interacting with passengers, unsecured pets, putting on makeup or grooming, adjusting radio or climate controls, and even daydreaming.

FLHSMV is joined by transportation and law enforcement partners across the state to help spread awareness on the dangers of distracted driving:

“Distracted driving endangers everyone on the road, from those in your own vehicle, to bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, and construction workers around you,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Put the phone down and focus on driving – you could save a life.”

FDOT will also be supporting the campaign with distracted driving education and awareness efforts including radio, social media and video PSAs statewide. FDOT encourages motorists to use the free Florida 511 app before hitting the road for real-time traffic information.

“Distracted driving, such as texting or talking on smart phones, can easily result in a tragic situation for the driver and passengers as well as other motorists. Our sheriffs stand ready to enforce the Florida distracted driving laws to ensure the safety of the public that we proudly represent. On behalf of our Florida sheriffs, I fully endorse the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ ‘Put it Down’ campaign,” said Sheriff Bobby Schultz, President, Florida Sheriffs Association.

“One lost life to distracted driving is one too many,” said Jeff Pearson, Satellite Beach Police Chief and FPCA President.“The last thing our officers want to do is to deliver the worst news imaginable to the families of those that are injured or killed in distracted driving crashes. The FPCA reminds you, life is too precious to waste on texting and driving. Please focus on driving and not your devices.”

“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the task of driving,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “If can’t do that, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk. Don’t drive distracted.”

For more information, including safe driving tips, information on Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving Law, and downloadable resources, visit FLHSMV’s Distracted Driving webpage.