Texting And Driving Ban On The Open Road To Full House Vote

April 4, 2013

In a room full of people texting updates to and otherwise using electronic devices, a long sought measure to ban such behavior while driving was given a green light to the House floor on Wednesday.

The measure (HB 13) was approved with just one “no” vote in the House Economic Affairs Committee, it’s last preliminary hearing before heading to the full House.

“It’s the beginning of the change that is necessary in our culture that people learning a new activity, whether it be driving or whether it be texting, that certain activities are appropriate and certain activities are inappropriate, and texting is inappropriate while behind the wheel of an automobile,” said Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, the sponsor of the House legislation.

Legislators have struggled to advance the proposal in past sessions, particularly in the House, where concerns have aired over imposing new rules that infringe on personal liberties.

Committee Chairman Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, who voted against the bill, said he wanted to remain consistent in resisting measures perceived as expanding government intrusion. He has previously opposed allowing stepped up enforcement of seat belt requirements, and the use of red light cameras.

“Where do you cross the line of digging in your bag and getting a French fry and driving?” Patronis asked.

The bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers would have to be pulled over for something else before they could get a secondary ticket for texting.

The fine would be $30 plus court costs, which could be as much as $129. A second ticket within five years would be marked as a “moving violation” against one’s license and come with a $60 ticket, before court costs are added that could run up to $179.

Holder, claiming that polls indicate that up to 95 percent of Floridians support the ban, said police may track records to determine if an individual was texting while driving, but he would expect that to occur typically only when there had been a crash or during a death investigation.

“One of the most important parts of this bill is to empower parents and drivers ed teachers to be able to tell their children and students that texting while driving is illegal in the state of Florida,” Holder said. Florida is in the minority, most states have at least some restrictions on texting while behind the wheel.

The bill has exceptions, such as allowing the use of “talk-to-text” technology, reporting emergencies, and allowing texting while a vehicle is stopped, such as at a red light.

The bill had been previously unanimously approved by the Transportation & Highway Safety and Civil Justice subcommittees.

The Senate version (SB 52) has also cleared two committees and awaits a hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida


4 Responses to “Texting And Driving Ban On The Open Road To Full House Vote”

  1. Mark on April 5th, 2013 2:11 pm

    friction against the machine wrote:

    “A study done around 2005 showed that the average motorist can’t drive more than 50 yards without infringing on some traffic law or doing something that would techniqually give rise to a traffic stop. Is this REALLY the country you want?”

    Could you provide a link to this study? I find that very hard to believe that you cannot drive 50 yards without doing something that would give rise to a traffic stop. I did a google search on “distracted driving studies”, and nothing I saw confirmed this information.

    You also said: “Another redundant feel good law that does nothing to address a problem”

    I’m just wondering here, if the law does nothing, then what do YOU say will correct the problem?

    Just yesterday, I’m driving down 9 mile when I notice the car next to me seems to be drifting in my lane. When I looked over, the lady was looking down obviously reading a text message or sending one. When I honked my horn to get her attention, she almost over-corrected and went off the road!

    How did people survive car rides BEFORE cell phones?

  2. friction against the machine on April 5th, 2013 8:59 am

    Another redundant feel good law that does nothing to address a problem. You people need to wake up…you’re ok with them passing these laws until YOU get charged with it or stopped on the pretext that you’re texting.

    There are more pages of laws, regulations and administrative procedures in this country than in the history of the world. There are so many laws on the books that in some cases you can’t follow one law without breaking another.

    A study done around 2005 showed that the average motorist can’t drive more than 50 yards without infringing on some traffic law or doing something that would techniqually give rise to a traffic stop. Is this REALLY the country you want?

  3. Henry Coe on April 4th, 2013 10:22 am

    Please, pass it. People texting and driving are a dangerous hazard.

    People texting or using the phone while pushing a shopping cart are also dangerous and also need to be stopped, but that’s probably not addressed in this bill.

  4. mick on April 4th, 2013 9:03 am

    Its not an infringement on anyone’s personal liberty to act stupid…texting while driving has become a scourge on society it is going to get as bad as driving under the influence…where I work people walk down the halls and literally run into each other because thet are texting or reading text. Again ask those students who were friends with the high school student who was killed because of this problem if they kept their promise not to text while driving… If this gets passed hopefully it will have some teeth to it, because Alabama’s law is lame it does absolutely nothing to curtail this terrible problem….

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