It’s a small device, blamed for causing major safety risks on the road.
Now, a state lawmaker is stepping up her efforts to make it harder for people to get away with texting while driving.
State Rep. Emily Slosberg has contacted county leaders in all of Florida’s 67 counties, and some city leaders, asking them to sign resolutions supporting changing the current law that makes texting while driving a secondary offense.
That means law enforcement can only give someone a ticket for texting if they are pulled over for a different offense first, such as speeding or reckless driving.
Slosberg would like law enforcement to be able to pull someone over just for texting, and make it a primary offense.
“Im going to keep going, even during committee week, to get as many resolutions passed as possible,” Slosberg said.
So far, a dozen counties or cities have passed resolutions, which includes Calhoun County, Marion County, Franklin County, Manatee County, Citrus County, Levy County and Liberty County. The cities supporting Slosberg’s push so far are Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Miami, Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches.
She wants to take that show of support to Tallahassee during the next legislative session when she asks lawmakers to vote to change the law.
Okeechobee County is the most recent County Commission to add their names to that list of counties in support of changing the law.
Drivers there say texting and driving is common, as it is around the state. “It’s pretty frequent,” said Tonya Stamm. “They’re jeopardizing other people’s safety on the roads.”
Driver Cornelio Benitez agreed. “[I see it] all the time, especially on I-95.”
Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he is glad to see Slosberg continuing to fight for safer roads.
“Im 100% behind what the Slosberg family is trying to do,” Culpepper said.
For him, it’s personal. He’s a grandfather who wants safe roads for his grandson. “I haul precious cargo,” Culpepper said. He’s also a former EMT who has seen first hand the horrific sight of a crash from distracted driving.
“I’ve been the one that’s had to pull these kids out of these cars.”
Benitez thinks stiffer laws will make the road safer. “It might make people think twice,” Benitez said.
Slosberg says there has been opposition to her request from individual county commissioners in areas outside Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. She says some county leaders have been opposed to tougher regulation and government control inside their cars.
Boynton Beach City Commissioners will be voting Tuesday to pass their own resolution in support of changing the law.
On Sept. 26, Martin County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution is support of Slosberg's bill.