Florida state senator Nancy Detert (R - Venice, FL) filed a bill (SB 52) last week in the Florida Senate that would empower police officers to cite people for texting while driving. Currently, Forty-Five (45) of the fifty United States have some form of ban on texting while driving. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging all states to ban this practice and to empower police to do something about it. Almost 4,000 highway deaths per year are attributed to distraced drivers. As anyone who has tried to text and drive knows, this practice is even more dangerous than driving under the influence. Florida, Montana, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Arizona are the only states in the country that have failed to enact laws prohibiting the practice.
Perhaps the only thing controversial about this bill is that it limits the power of police in enforcing it. Under the bill, the offense is considered a "secondary offense," meaning the cops can only cite you for it if they first stop you for some other reason. The penalty is a $30 fine and it is considered a "nonmoving" vioation.
Sure, the bill should be stronger. The real question is why it has taken Florida so long to enact legislation to curb this lethal driivng practice.
Incredibly, according to The Miami Herald, Detert's bill has failed to pass the Florida legislature on two previous occassions. Let's hope the Florida legislature gets it right this year, and let's hope they strengthen the bill.
To view The Miami Herald article on this topic, click here.