35 States have a ban on texting while Driving. Florida does not, and remains one (1) of 15 states without a ban on sending text messages while driving.
The legislative session starts in January 2012, and hopefully lawmakers will enact a ban during the 60-day session.
Despite widespread public support for such a law, bans have been defeated because Republicans view the law as an intrusion on personal liberty. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, famously blocked a proposed texting ban from being heard in her House committee in 2010, a move that killed the bill.
Under the proposed ban, it would still be OK to text at a red light, or use GPS, talk on the phone or dial a number while driving. The ban would extend to composing emails and instant messages.
The first violation would result in a $30 fine. A second violation within five years of the first would cost $60 and three points added to a driver’s license. Six points would be added if the use of a wireless communications device resulted in a crash.
Lobbyists from AAA, AT&T and AARP spoke in support of the measure.
Thirty-five states have introduced texting bans on all drivers. Other states have added restrictions for certain groups, such as teens and bus drivers. Of course, Florida has no such laws.
“It’s time that we caught up with the rest of the nation,” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, during the committee meeting, “because texting is addictive.”
Some lawmakers are trying other ways to curb distracted driving. An idea (SB 122) from Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would require driver improvement and learner’s permit courses to include a segment on the hazards of using phones and other devices at the wheel. It passed its first committee hurdle Wednesday.
And Reps. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, and Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, have introduced a ban (HB 187/SB 930) on minors using cellphones on the road. Slosberg wants to include school bus drivers, as well.
While the full state Senate has been warm to the ban, having passed it in 2010, the House is another story.
As a Miami Car Accident Attorney, I am troubled by the Republican congress’ failure to pass meaningful legislation on texting. Again the Republican congress is more concerned with limiting recoveries for injury victims, instead of trying to eliminate the harmful conduct that causes said injuries.
The government says that 3,092 people died in 2010 due to “distraction-affected” crashes. That was one of every 11 U.S. traffic deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it refined and narrowed how it counts distraction crashes, so the 2010 tally can’t be directly compared to 2009’s 5,474 “distraction-related” traffic fatalities.
Despite the alarming statistics The Republican led Congress refuses to pass meaningful legislation.