Texting While Driving Bill Will BRB

December 7, 2010

A proposal to prohibit message sending while driving has returned in the Senate, with Sen. Evelyn Lynn filing a measure that would bar drivers from sending or reading text messages, E-mails, or other forms of communication.

The bill (SB 80), filed late last month, would make violations a noncriminal infraction carrying a $100 fine. A House version of the measure hasn’t been filed yet. The Senate passed a ban on texting while driving earlier this year, but the House didn’t take up the proposal.

notxt.jpgIf the bill does get through the Legislature, it’s not clear whether incoming Gov. Rick Scott would be amenable. During the campaign, Scott said he agreed that driving distractions – including “eating fast food,” should be discouraged, but wouldn’t commit to a ban. “I will work with legislators that share my concern to adopt policies that address distracted driving,” Scott said during the campaign, but hasn’t been asked about it since.

A study this fall by the University of North Texas looked at national traffic data from the Fatality Accident Report system and texting data from federal officials, and suggested that texting while driving claimed more than 15,000 lives over a six-year period. Researchers also say deaths by distracted driving are the cause of more than 15 percent of traffic fatalities.

More than 220 million Americans subscribe to wireless services – some estimates say more than 90 percent of Americans have a cell phone – up from about 30 percent at the turn of the 21st Century. And, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as many as 80 percent of Americans admit to using their phones while driving.

The bill filed by Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, has a tougher punishment than last year’s Senate-passed bill, which would have brought a $30 fine for a first offense, more for subsequent offenses.

Eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phone use by all drivers, according to NCSL. Legislatures in other states have prohibited cell phone use by certain drivers, such as young drivers or school bus drivers, for example.

Lynn’s bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, the Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee and the Budget Committee.

By David Royse
The News Service Florida


7 Responses to “Texting While Driving Bill Will BRB”

  1. pearl.coon on December 13th, 2010 6:49 am

    Anything that can get into people’s thick skulls how dangerous distracted driving can be, is worth implementing everywhere.

    Source: hartfordauto.thehartford.com/Safe-Driving/Car-Safety/Driving-Safety/

  2. John Payne on December 8th, 2010 5:09 pm

    All you have to do is put your phone up and when pulled over. 15,000 dead over 5 years, people all over the road. Leaving the road while distracted are moving into oncoming traffic could cause the death of some one else, but just put it away when pulled over. There is no regard for anyone elses safety. IS KILLING YOURSELF ARE SOME ONE ELSE WHILE DISTRACTED WORTH A TEST THAT COULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETED LATER??????

  3. student on December 8th, 2010 3:56 pm

    I agree that it can be harmful but it shouldnt be banned. Sometimes texting is neccessary. And how woiuld they enforce it? All you have to do is put your phone up when you get pulled over. I think its a little outrageous.

  4. Michael on December 7th, 2010 10:39 am

    Just a note, and don’t get me wrong because I think it is more of a hazard than anything.

    “The increase in fatalities, as reported by an American Journal of Public Health study, might be caused by drivers ignoring the laws and attempting to hide their texting and becoming more distracted than before, the Highway Loss Data Institute said.” Atlanta Journal Constitution October 12, 2010 page A1.

    I don’t know what the solution would be other than having a blocking signal installed in cars that would kill the phone while the car was in drive. However, there are a lot of people out there who will complain about texting but yet they still talk. Everyone slows down when they are doing something besides driving. no exceptions, they just do. And if we have a problem with them driving and texting/talking what about the people who are doing it and walking. I’ve been run over by more people walking and not paying attention than I have been in car accidents.

  5. me on December 7th, 2010 8:39 am

    ■Chumuckla Proud: From your description, sounds like to me they didn’t have their seatbelts on either!! Parents, be aware of WHO your prescious children are riding with! Occasionally my daughter would have other students ride with her when she was in high school, and I was very proud when one of them told me that she would not start her car’s engine until she heard all of the seat belts “click” – even the back seat. “

  6. Concerned citizen on December 7th, 2010 7:06 am

    Hey chumuckla proud… I agree with you. it will be a long road just drinking and driving. People just never learn! Bigger fines and loss of license would sure help

  7. Chumuckla Proud on December 7th, 2010 6:38 am

    This bill needs to be passed but with a much heavier fine than $100. My first encounter with a driver who was texting and reading texts was on the US 90 Causeway heading east towards Pace. After my husband (the driver) carefully passed her in the other lane, I observed the woman, who seemed oblivious to the traffic behind her and aside of her, texting while driving, weaving in an out of her lane to the point where other cars had to swerve to get out of her way. The speed of her car would range anywhere from 10 mph to 20 mph and then back to 55. More frightening is the fact that there were two small children in the back seat of the car. My second encounter was driving behind a car full of high school students who were about to enter Chumuckla Hwy. after school. The traffic light on Chumuckla Hwy. turned red for me and turned green for the driver (a female), leaving the school road, but the car did not move. She was in my full vision, texting while her friends were looking over her shoulder and laughing. When the light turned red for her and green for me, I started to proceed, at which point she then decided to run the light. I sounded my horn to warn her of what she had done and her response was flipping me a bird while her friends stuck their heads out the car window, laughing and making more obscene gestures. My take on this is that driving while texting, receiving texts, operating a laptop, and/or any other distracting devices should be considered the same as driving while under the influence.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) NorthEscambia.com reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.