Tallahassee, FL -- January 12, 2012 --
Every year about 6-thousand people are killed in car crashes caused by distracted drivers. One of the main distractions is texting. There’s no ban on the practice in Florida, but state Senator Nancy Detert is trying to change that.
“The behavior of a person texting while driving is the same as the behavior of a drunk driver. They are coming into your lane,” said Detert.
This is her third attempt to pass a bill banning the practice. Detert’s bill passed its second senate committee Thursday. Chairman Andy Gardiner voted for the bill.
“We need to address the issue and you know as technology changes statutes need to change,” said Gardiner.
The bill makes texting a secondary offense. That means police couldn’t pull you over for texting, but if you were pulled over for something else, you could then be fined for texting.
Opponents of the ban say Florida already has a reckless driving law and if its enforced it will catch the worst offenders. State Senator Joe Negron cast the lone no vote against the bill.
“The examples that are used, of someone weaving down the road while they are texting, if a law enforcement officer observes that, the person can be given a careless driving citation under existing law,” said Negron.
For Governor Rick Scott the issue is personal.
“It happened to my wife three years ago, it happened to her. Somebody back ended her,” said Scott.
Scott hasn’t seen the bill yet, but says a thoughtful ban would have his support. The fine for a first time offender would be 30 bucks. Get caught twice in five years and the fine doubles. People who cause a wreck because they are texting would have six points added to their driving record.