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 Republican State Senator Nancy Detert of Sarasota 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.”
This is her third attempt to pass a bill banning the practice. Detert’s bill passed its second Senate committee Thursday. Republican Chairman Andy Gardiner, a State Senator from Orlando, voted for the bill. “We need to address the issue and you know as technology changes statutes need to change.”
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 it's enforced it will catch the worst offenders.
Republican State Senator Joe Negron of Martin County 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.”
For Governor Rick Scott the issue is personal. “It happened to my wife three years ago, it happened to her. Somebody back ended her.”
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.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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