Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, has filed two bills. One would make it vehicular homicide if someone using an electronic device caused a fatal crash. The other would prohibit anyone under 18 from using a “wireless communications device or telephone.”
A 2012 State Farm survey found that more than 57 percent of teens with a driver’s license admitted to texting while driving, though advocates said the problem is hardly limited to teens.
One of the most compelling speakers at a recent House workshop on the matter was North Marion High student body president Wesley Sapp.
Sapp formed a group called Drive for Life after 10 North Marion students or graduates died in accidents in a five-year span. “We didn’t feel like we should be attending our friends’ funerals,” or “having a moment of silence” way too often, Sapp told legislators.
His Drive for Life group began a statewide initiative to educate students on “what was happening — how our decisions behind the wheel are affecting our lives and others.”
The loss of his friend, Margay Schee, has also motivated him to speak out against distracted driving. The day she died, “it was a bright and sunny September day and Margay was on her bus coming home from school like any day,” he said. “The bus was at a complete stop and the lights were flashing. The bus was struck from the back by a semi driver. … She was just 13 years old.”
“Margay’s mother will never see her graduate, her mother will never watch her get married or go to college,” Sapp said. “It takes a lot to remember what her smile looks like, it takes a lot to remember what her voice sounds like, what that little sparkle in her eye looked like.”
Making texting illegal will help change habits, Sapp said. Using a seat belt is “second nature,” to his generation and eventually using a cellphone while driving “won’t be acceptable.”
Asking legislators to pass the texting ban, Sapp told them: “It will save the lives of your loved ones and your children’s children.”
Contact Rochelle Koff at firstname.lastname@example.org.