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Ban on texting while driving advances in Senate

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is trying a third time to make texting while driving illegal in Florida, one of just a handful of states without a law that addresses this brand of distracted driving.

Members of the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to move her bill to its next stop. Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said his original plan was to vote no, but Detert won him over.

"It's time that we caught up to the rest of the nation," said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

Detert's proposal, SB 416, is mild compared to other laws in states such as New York and Washington. Modeled after suggested language from the US Department of Transportation, her bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, so law enforcement could not pull drivers over unless there was another factor at play, like speeding.

Detert was not hopeful the House would move on the proposed ban. She's normally all for personal liberty, she said, but that sentiment changes when texting motorists swerve in her lane.

"Do whatever you want in your own automobile, as long as you're not taking me out with you," she said.

The first violation would result in a $30 fine. A second violation within five years of the first results in a $60 fine and 3 points added to a driver's license. Six points would be added if the use of a wireless communications device results in a crash.

The bill has two more committee stops.


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Please Don't Text and Drive! Join the Forces to End Texting While Driving! Start a Don't Text and Drive Campaign! www.BuyTextingThumbBands.com

Noah Berkowitz

That is a long issue years in counting but still.
thanks for sharing.

Lynn Edgin

We support the ban on texting while driving. Congress Woman Wilson from Florida is also introducing a bill to stop texting while driving.



While we appreciate your efforts on the law, there is a common sense factor which seems to have gone unnoticed. What makes an emergency responded any less accountable, or special than the average citizen?
These are the kinds of actions which make the public, and citizens across the county not trust in the elected officials. They see that when the elected officials pass laws, or sponsor bills they do not have a just and fair equality about them, and they seem to always side in a favor that treats or words a normal citizen as less than equal.

What I am speaking of, is the "emergency responder" exception in your bill. I read that, and instantly knew I was not equal. What makes them so much more special or important than any other person out there driving?
You see, if the rule applies to all drivers, then it should apply to them as well because they are DRIVING also.

It makes no sense what so ever to not include them, because based on the research done with texting and driving, it has shown it to be a distraction to anyone driving, including an emergency responder. If your average citizen driver is too distracted to use the phone for texting while operating a motor vehicle, emergency responders are at an even higher risk because they have to be sharp, and aware at all times.

If it distracts people while driving, it distracts people - equally. There should not be a provision protecting them, from the rest of the populous. It's just not common sense, because they are driving too, just like the rest of us.

It is selective, exclusive, and demeaning to allow a category of people to do something a law is denouncing on the rest of the population of Florida.

What it says, is that "emergency responders" are excluded from this law, because the information they need to send or receive is so much more important, and they are so much more important than the rest of us citizens - they get a free pass.
Our information is just as important, and we have a right to send message as well.

If it does not apply to ALL DRIVERS, then it is discriminatory, and a violation of civil liberties to apply a law unilaterally.


I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that over 3/4 of teens text daily - many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

Erik Wood, owner

Toyota Dealer San Diego

I think these proposed regulations are reasonable. However, drivers who want to circumvent the laws will find a way to do so, whether it's by fiddling around on their ipad or whatnot. It's ultimately up to the driver to regulate their own behavior.

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