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Maria Sachs' claim about texting while driving is Mostly False

@via rkoff and @politifactfl

On the first day of Florida’s new texting-while-driving ban, state Sen. Maria Sachs, the Senate Democratic leader pro-tem, was already announcing a proposal to make the law tougher.

The new law makes texting while driving a secondary offense, which means an officer can’t ticket a motorist only for typing or reading messages while behind the wheel. Rather, the driver has to first commit another violation, like swerving or running a red light. 

Sachs, of Delray Beach, has filed a bill to make texting while driving a primary offense, which she argues will make it easier to enforce. The penalties -- $30 for a first violation -- will remain.

At a press conference with AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson to announce her proposed changes, Sachs recited several somber statistics. We decided to fact-check this claim: "In 2011, texting surpassed alcohol as the leading contributing factor in teen driving deaths."

There’s little doubt that texting is a danger in automobile safety. A 2006 study by David Strayer and Frank Drews at the University of Utah found that people are just as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08 percent.

The report, which looked at talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones and not texting, concluded that using a cell phone while driving "can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk."

But is it true that in 2011, texting surpassed alcohol as the leading contributing factor in teen driving deaths? Read more from PolitiFact.