At 17, Mark Merwitzer might be Florida’s youngest lobbyist.
The Miami high school junior is on a mission to keep drivers from texting behind the wheel and he says he won’t stop until it’s a state law.
Over the past year, the teen has met with youth councils, county officials and state legislators to argue that texting behind the wheel should be a primary offense — meaning police can pull drivers over just for using their phones, instead of issuing a ticket only if they are stopped for another infraction. With the help of Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, Merwitzer has championed a bill that has so far cleared several hurdles. Similar efforts in past years have struggled to advance, but on Wednesday the bill got unanimous support from the Senate transportation committee.
“I’m personally very tired of seeing people’s lives thrown away because of texting while driving,” said Merwitzer, who does not yet have his driver’s license, but said he sees motorists on their phones all the time on Miami highways.
Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff