Florida is one of few remaining states in the U.S. not to ban, or regulate, texting while driving. Florida will now try to join the 39 other states banning such acts.
On Tuesday, State Representative Doug Holder filed a bill to make texting while driving a secondary offense under which a driver can receive a citation, but only after being pulled over for a primary offense such as speeding.
Estimates show that distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year.
“If you are texting while driving you are 23 times more likely to have an accident,” Holder said. “I think the timing is right. I think we are going to get something passed.”
“Generally conservatives are somewhat reluctant to let government have control. I am conservative but (distracted driving) has become an epidemic.”
There is no known opposition to the bill known at this time said Holder.
Former attempts to pass such a bill failed due to political pressure and arguments that other distractions while driving such as GPS and radios, would still distract drivers and cause fatalities.
The bill defines the use of a “wireless communications device” in a crash as a penalty of 4 points against a the driver’s. A moving violation in conjunction with the above, and within a school safety zone, would carry of penalty of two points.
The bill says “a person may not operate a vehicle while manually typing or entering letters, including texting, e-mailing and instant messaging.” Under the bill cell phone calls would still be allowed.
Exceptions will be made for driver’s of authorized emergency vehicles or people reporting an emergency or criminal act to law enforcement.
Exceptions also apply to use of GPS devices and receiving radio broadcasts.