Bill banning texting while driving starts long road in Florida Legislature. Will it face a dead end? (Again)

5:44 PM, Dec 7, 2011   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - The Florida Senate is getting serious about passing a ban on texting while driving. However, the House is not.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would ban texting while driving.

Bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Detert told the committee way too many tragedies have happened as a result of drivers who were texting behind the wheel. She recalled the case of a woman who was driving to see her wedding planner in Orlando and was hit and killed by a truck driver who was texting while driving.

She told another story of another texting-while-driving motorist who hit a garbage man and severed his legs.

Detert, who's pushing the bill for the third straight year, told committee members it's time to stop the tragedies.

"I am a big fan of personal freedom doing whatever you want in your own automobile as long as you're not taking me out with you. If you don't want to wear your seat belt and be a projectile through your own windshield that's fine with me. Just don't take me with."

Some lawmakers have expressed reservations about the bill, because it does not address distracted driving in general. They argue if the state is going to ban one distraction behind the wheel of car, then it should include others too.

Detert's bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning police could not pull you over if they saw you texting behind the wheel. Officers could issue a ticket for texting in connection with another offense, such as speeding, drifting between lanes or after a crash.

Offenders would not get any points on their license unless there was a crash or if it was a second offense. The fine would be $30.

The House killed the bill earlier this year and Detert says it faces another uphill battle in that chamber unless Floridians put pressure on their lawmakers.

Detert says Florida is one of only nine states that have not passed some sort of legislation addressing texting while driving.

Dave Heller

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