Florida’s legislative session is just weeks away and two bills have already been filed that would limit cell phone use while driving. We need stronger laws to protect drivers. It’s an undisputable fact: distracted drivers injure and kill. They are as dangerous as drunk drivers.
Right now, it’s illegal to text and drive in Florida, but it’s only as a secondary offense. That means drivers would have to get stopped for another violation such as speeding or running a stop sign in order to be cited for violating the texting law. Florida is behind the times and needs to make texting while driving a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers when texting while driving.
Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton filed a bill called the “Hands-free Florida Law.” The proposed legislation (HB 45) would ban drivers from using hand-held wireless devices to talk, but would allow the use of hands-free devices. It would make texting and talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving a primary offense.
For Slosberg, highway safety is personal. In 1996, she was in a car accident caused by a distracted driver with her twin sister Dori, who was killed. Representative Slosberg continues to be a strong advocate for highway safety by introducing legislation to make Florida’s roadways safer.
The other measure, SB 76, filed by Senator Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, would prohibit texting, reading data, or talking on wireless hand-held devices while driving. It represents a broader ban on cell use while driving, and also permits enforcement as a primary offense.
If either bill passes, it would make texting – and other cell phone use while driving – a primary offense. And Florida would start catching up with science and other states.
During previous legislative sessions, similar measures did not pass because of civil liberty concerns. The civil liberties issue was also asserted years ago when passage of seat belt laws were sought. It took more than a decade after seat belts became required in Florida for failing to wear one to become a primary offense. Legislators are going through the same process with smart phone usage while driving. Both are public safety issues.
At Terrell • Hogan, we take distracted driving seriously. We can all choose not to use our cell phones while driving until we get safely reach our destination. We offer complimentary Distracted Driving Awareness presentations for both teens and adults. Contact us at (904) 722-2228 to request a presentation.