Ban proposed on texting and talking on cell phones while driving

4:57 PM, Dec 14, 2011   |    comments
The North Florida Safety Council, which operates driver's education classes, is handing out these bumper stickers.
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Are you ready to put down your cell phone in the car and not touch it while you're driving?

That's what the National Transportation Safety Board wants you to do.

The federal agency is pushing for a nationwide ban on texting and talking on a cell phone while driving. The board says even hands-free devices are dangerous distractions and should be banned behind the wheel.

NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman says it's time for people to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices while driving.

The proposal gets a thumbs up from driver's education instructors. Ron Richardson of the North Florida Safety Council says he requires his students to lock their cell phones in the trunk before they get behind the wheel.

"Of course we have a captive audience," Richardson jokes.

But he admits it's tough to change people's behavior. So Richardson thinks the time has come to outlaw texting and driving and hit drivers with stiff fines if they do.

"We need something. I hate to see Big Brother get involved but Big Brother has to protect everybody."

Last year more than 3,000 people were killed nationwide because of distracted drivers.

Richardson says there's no question that your focus is distracted when you text and drive.

"You see with your eyes but what does your mind see? It's the mind's eye that gets clouded because of the fact that you're talking on a cell phone. And with texting you're actually taking your eyes off the road."

Currently 35 states ban texting while driving.

State Sen. Nancy Detert is trying to get Florida to join the group. She's pushing a bill to ban texting while driving. Detert convinced a Senate committee to pass her bill last week with straight talk like this.

"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."

Her bill still faces two more committee votes before it can head to the full Senate. However, the legislation faces a tough road ahead in the House, which killed a similar bill earlier this year.

Dave Heller

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