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Texting And Driving Bill Gaining Momentum In Florida

A bill to make texting and driving illegal has cleared the Florida House and Senate committees, after years of proposals stalling out.

The bill by Rep. Doug Holder to make texting while driving a secondary offense passed unanimously out of a House transportation subcommittee. However, the bill has more committees to clear.

Florida is currently one of only five states without any restrictions on texting while driving. A Senate version of the bill won unanimous approval as well at its second committee hearing.

The bills would make texting and driving a secondary offense, which means a motorist would have to commit another violation, such as careless driving, in order to be pulled over. Once stopped, a driver could receive a ticket, one for the primary infraction and one for the texting.

The fine would be $30 for the first offense, and $60 if it occurs again within five years. Texting would be allowed in hands-free high-tech cars and when a car is stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam.

Holder believes it is important to change driver’s attitudes about texting while driving, and believes making texting while driving illegal would substantially decrease the number of traffic accidents involving cell phone use.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 100,000 crashes a year are linked to drivers who are texting. A recent study also shows that more than 70 percent of Florida voters support a statewide ban on text messaging while driving. Florida state records show that during the first 10 months of 2011, cell phone use led to 2,218 accidents with 145 of those linked specifically to texting.

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Source: The Florida Herald, “Texting and Driving bill gains speed,” March, 8, 2013.

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