Florida is one of five states in this country which has no law banning texting while driving. Fortunately, with three distracted driving bills set to be heard in the 2013 legislative session, this status may soon change.
According to Hands-Free Info, 270 officials, safety advocates and law enforcement officers met for the Florida Distracted Driving Summit held in Tampa in November. Those at the gathering heard from physicians, researchers and survivors of distracted driving victims.
Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, was the main speaker and thanked those who are working to pass a law against distracted driving. LaHood stated that Florida is one of the few states without a single distracted driving law.
One father, whose daughter was killed by a texting driver, said that "we must have a ban on texting while driving."
The three bills prefiled for the 2013 legislative session are:
- Senate Bill 52 by State Senator Nancy Detert: This bill would outlaw texting, emailing and instant messaging for all drivers in Florida. It would not, however, outlaw hands-free texting and use of devices for navigation. This would be a non-moving violation, except for subsequent convictions within a five-year period. Secondary enforcement, which means police can only cite driver if they have been pulled over for another violation such as speeding. Six points against license for causing a crash while illegally using a handheld communications device. Two points for use in school zones. Billed as Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.
- House Bill 13 by State Representative Doug Holder: Holder's bill is essentially the same as Detert's bill.
- Senate Bill 74 by State Senator Sachs: Would prohibit texting and the use of handheld communication devices for all drivers. The penalties are the same as Bill 52. Billed as the Florida Ban on Communicating While Driving Law.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than fifteen people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured each day in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver.
A recent survey reported that 70% of Florida voters support a statewide ban on text messaging while driving. Hopefully the Florida legislature will agree with the majority of voters and pass one of these distracted driving bills and, thus, make the state's roadways safer for all drivers.