Statewide Texting Ban Clears Last Hurdle in Senate

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A statewide ban on texting while driving is now one more step closer to becoming law.

The Senate Judiciary committee unanimously cleared the bill (SB 52) on Monday. That sets it up for consideration by the full Senate. An identical House bill (HB 13) also is going to the floor there.

The bills make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police have to first stop drivers for an offense like an illegal turn.

A first violation is a $30 fine plus court costs. A second or subsequent violation within five years adds three points to the driver's license and a $60 fine.

Efforts to pass a ban stalled for at least four years in the face of Republican opposition based on concerns about government intrusion into people's lives.

Tallahassee, FL -- 17 year old Jenny Ruben was one of the dozens of people who took their turn at a "texting while driving" simulator at the historic Florida Capitol Wednesday.

She said she crashed about six times trying to read and send a text while behind the fake wheel. Joining other youth and adult drivers asking for texting legislation, Ruben wore a shirt that read 'T-T-Y-L.' Instead of 'talk to you later,' it stood for 'texting takes young lives.'

"I think people need to realize how dangerous it is, it's just not worth it, it really can wait," said Ruben.

A House bill making texting while driving a secondary offense in Florida passed its final committee Wednesday. The next stop will be the House floor.

Boca Raton Rep. Irv Slosberg thinks this is the year the bill makes it through roadblocks it hit in the past.

"I think there's a 95% shot it's going to happen. Speaker Weatherford is giving this a fair shot! Road safety gets a fair shot, and once you give road safety a fair shot in the House of Representatives, I have 100 percent confidence we have the votes to pass it," said Rep. Slosberg.

Slosberg has been heavily involved in Florida highway safety ever since his daughter was killed in a traffic crash.

A similar bill passed in the Senate last year, but has never made it this far in the House.

The Florida Highway Patrol says in 2012 there were more than 4500 crashes in the state caused by the "distraction of electronic communications devices."

Press Release: Florida Representative Irv Slosberg

Tallahassee - In an effort to make our roads safer, Representative Irv Slosberg announced today that he is joining students from the Florida Virtual School's "TTYL - Texting Takes Young Lives" campaign to stop distracted driving. Representative Slosberg is a co-sponsor of the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving" bill (HB 13) by Representative Doug Holder (R-Venice) and Representative Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) and is a proud supporter of the Senate version, (SB 52), by Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice). Representative Slosberg and the FLVS students have pledged their support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road. Through this campaign, they are encouraging Florida legislators to support HB 13 and SB 52, and urge that these bills be heard in their final assigned committees. As one of only two states with no laws regulating cell phone use while driving, the time has come for Florida to enact this important piece of legislation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 28% of accidents occur when people are using their phone, and drivers are 23-times more likely to crash. While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction - visual, manual and cognitive.

"It's a new day in the state of Florida," said Rep. Irv Slosberg. "Democrats and Republicans alike, we are working together as a team in the legislature to do something about this mass epidemic." Representative Holder and Senator Sachs (D-Delray Beach) will also be speaking. Please join us to praise the efforts of Rep. Holder, Rep. Pilon, and Sen. Detert and support the passage of Florida's first distracted driving law.

The FLVS students are also hosting a "Texting Takes Young Lives" workshop at 9:30am in order to raise awareness and educate students on the dangers of distracted driving. The hour-long interactive program will take place on the front steps of the Historic Capitol and feature a "distracted driving simulator" as well as speakers from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Allstate Foundation.The FLVS cordially invites members of the Legislature, the media, and all supporters to participate in this informative and unique event.

Rep. Irving Slosberg (D) of District 91 (Boca Raton, Fla.), served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2006, and was re-elected in 2010. He was motivated to enter the political arena after his daughter Dori passed away from injuries sustained in a 1996 car crash.

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