LEGISLATURE

Texting-while-driving-ban sails through the Senate

 
 
Tina Derby sends text messages while driving in Concord, N.H. The state has since banned texting while driving, and a ban in Florida is gaining traction.
Tina Derby sends text messages while driving in Concord, N.H. The state has since banned texting while driving, and a ban in Florida is gaining traction.
Jim Cole / AP

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

This might be the year Florida moves to outlaw texting while driving.

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a texting-while-driving ban Tuesday and sent the legislation to the House for approval.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who has sponsored the bill for four years, said the offense “needs to stop, this is the year.”

SB 52, approved 36-0, makes texting while driving a secondary violation, which means a motorist would have to commit another offense, such as careless driving, in order to be pulled over. Once stopped, a driver could receive two tickets, one for the infraction and one for texting.

“Everyone is in support of this bill,” Detert said. “The general public supports it by 89 percent. We really don't need the statistics. ... We see it every day as we drive.”

Detert credits House Speaker Will Weatherford for allowing the bill to be heard in the House. This is the first time representatives have had the chance to vote on the measure, which has cruised through committees this session.

The texting problem, Detert said, has become an “epidemic” with 11 teenagers dying every day in the country due to texting. Florida is one of five states without any type of texting ban.

“The bill is long overdue,” said Minority Leader Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. “We've lost too many young people, too many people in general.”

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