In a room full of people texting updates to and otherwise using electronic devices, a long sought measure to ban such behavior while driving was given a green light to the House floor on Wednesday.
The measure (HB 13) was approved with just one “no” vote in the House Economic Affairs Committee, it’s last preliminary hearing before heading to the full House.
“It’s the beginning of the change that is necessary in our culture that people learning a new activity, whether it be driving or whether it be texting, that certain activities are appropriate and certain activities are inappropriate, and texting is inappropriate while behind the wheel of an automobile,” said Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, the sponsor of the House legislation.
Legislators have struggled to advance the proposal in past sessions, particularly in the House, where concerns have aired over imposing new rules that infringe on personal liberties.
Committee Chairman Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, who voted against the bill, said he wanted to remain consistent in resisting measures perceived as expanding government intrusion. He has previously opposed allowing stepped up enforcement of seat belt requirements, and the use of red light cameras.
“Where do you cross the line of digging in your bag and getting a French fry and driving?” Patronis asked.
The bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers would have to be pulled over for something else before they could get a secondary ticket for texting.
The fine would be $30 plus court costs, which could be as much as $129. A second ticket within five years would be marked as a “moving violation” against one’s license and come with a $60 ticket, before court costs are added that could run up to $179.
Holder, claiming that polls indicate that up to 95 percent of Floridians support the ban, said police may track records to determine if an individual was texting while driving, but he would expect that to occur typically only when there had been a crash or during a death investigation.
“One of the most important parts of this bill is to empower parents and drivers ed teachers to be able to tell their children and students that texting while driving is illegal in the state of Florida,” Holder said. Florida is in the minority, most states have at least some restrictions on texting while behind the wheel.
The bill has exceptions, such as allowing the use of “talk-to-text” technology, reporting emergencies, and allowing texting while a vehicle is stopped, such as at a red light.
The bill had been previously unanimously approved by the Transportation & Highway Safety and Civil Justice subcommittees.
The Senate version (SB 52) has also cleared two committees and awaits a hearing before the Judiciary Committee.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
See Cell Phone and Texting While Driving: Laws in the 50 States, DC and Territories
I wonder how that would work with the voice to text option. Still looks like a text even though it was an auditory command…?
About freakin’ time.
Even though it still has a way to go before it becomes law, and it’s basically just a slap on the wrist, it’s a step in the right direction!
E. C. H. says
$1,000.00 fine. Manslaughter if you cause an accident with a fatality please. I saw someone come flying by me texting away on P.C. Pkwy and they didn’t look up until the very last second. They swerved into the center grass median and ended up two car lengths ahead of the car they almost totaled.
How do you explain away the damage you can do to another human being and family with that kind of stupidity?
Think About it says
What’s so VERY important it can’t wait?
Texting & driving is just plain STUPID.
Might as well have a cigarette & drink going at the same time, OH yeah, the kids are fighting in the back seat, might as well turn around and straighten them out all the while doing your texting, smoking, drinking, driving and then there’s always to OTHER vehicles on the already crowded roads..
Who’s going to have to tell the family, that while you were doing all the above things, you missed the light change or drifted into the other lane and KILLED someone or worst yet a whole family..
You want someone to kill or mangle YOU while THEY were texting n driving?
NOTHING can be that important, it can’t wait a few ,minutes…..
That’s great. They should also ban cell phone usage while driving..
Sherry Epley says
Finally! Laws like this should have been enacted years ago. They should be stronger and more strictly enforced also. This is just a “slap on the wrist”. . . but, it’s better than nothing.
Please, this insane idea that personal liberities are more sacred than public safety has got to be recognized for exactly what it is “outrageous”! When anyone climbs into the driver’s seat, they are taking the lives and health of loved ones and their fellow human beings into their hands. Yes, there are other risky driving habits, but why in the world would we find it acceptable to add one more huge distraction to drivers that are already often unsafe?
It would not be an issue if we lived in the “fantasy” world of the Tea Party. . . one where no taxes, regulations or laws were needed because everyone was born to naturally do the right thing. Where the environment naturally regenerated itself, where every single person loved their neighbor as themselves, where everyone acted for the common good, and for the safety and well being other others. Unfortunately that is not the reality in our country. Consider the possibility that we are actually evolving in the self centered direction of everything being about ME and my needs and desires. . . and not giving a second thought to our society as a whole.
Charles Gardner says
TWD as a secondary offense will be a toothless law. I guess that if you get pulled over after you run over a cyclist then you can be cited for TWD. TWD was a topic that two kids from Bunnell Elementary School Future Problem Solvers recently made a presentation in a state competition. It was on display at Wendy’s on Moody Blvd, I don’t know if it is still there. Good stuff.
Yes, it IS about time, but I’m not sure it will have that much of an impact. Young people seem to be surgically attached to those phones. Not sure why anyone can’t wait 2 minutes and park somewhere before texting or calling. Most of the time I hear people on their phones, they’re talking about NOTHING.
Finally they will be accountable for texting and driving and the tickets should be double the cost.
candy smoker says
i read this article while driving…
Texting while driving is obviously dangerous and a risk to yourself and others. It should be made illegal.
Meanwhile, cigarette use is proven to cause cancer in not just the smoker but others around him/her. And is still legal.
If there is money to be made from selling a product whether it be deadly or not, there will be someone who will fight to keep it legal.
Anyone with a brain can agree a law should be passed that bans texting and driving. So when will our leaders stop accepting bribes and do the right thing on other topics?
Fine are not high enough for drive & text.
Jim Neuenfeldt says
If you really want to end texting and other distractions while driving….Hold the cell carriers responsible. The technology is there and phones are capable to completely eliminate phone use while the phone is in motion. There could be an app that allowed passengers to still use the phone based on their time use. This technology created the distraction hold them accountable to control it.