Jacksonville, FL - It’s a problem on the roadways that you may commit every day, but Jacksonville’s Sheriff says it’s a deadly one.
“Everybody has a cell phone, everybody drives, and that’s a lethal combination,” says Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.
Because of the spike in pedestrian fatalities resulting from traffic crashes, Jacksonville Police have teamed up with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Highway Patrol for the “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” safety campaign.
But while enforcement and education steps up at the local level, Rutherford wants to see action at the state level as well.
“This texting is killing a lot of people, and it needs to stop,” he says.
Rutherford supports a ban on texting while driving, something Florida lawmakers are now working on. He tells WOKV he’d like to see it go even further, however, to include a ban on all cell phone that is not done through a hands-free device like Blue Tooth.
“We’re out here killing each other in the roadways, and it’s got to stop,” he says.
He says Jacksonville Police have seen cell phone use rise so significantly as a contributing factor to traffic accidents, that his investigators now check cell phones from all parties involved in an accident. The detectives are looking for any recent phone activity that may have contributed to the crash.
Rutherford says distracted driving is not the only problem- that pedestrians and bicyclists are also ignoring basic laws. Another problem right now, he says, is texting wouldn’t be considered a primary offense under what the legislature is considering. That means even if a ban is in place, officers could only cite a driver if they are pulled over for another traffic violation.
So while that’s worked out, Rutherford hopes area drivers just take more responsibility in to their own hands to help save lives.