Big transportation bill includes tough sanctions for cell-talking truckersby John Kennedy | June 13th, 2013
A wide-ranging transportation bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott fortifies a prohibition on truckers and bus drivers texting — or even talking on a cell phone, without a wireless device.
Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, said the measure (HB 7125) signed by Scott late Wednesday, aligns Florida with an existing federal ban, but is seen as giving state law enforcement more authority for enforcement.
Unlike a recent texting-while-driving ban signed by Scott that requires motorists to be stopped for other reasons before being cited, the commercial vehicle restriction is a primary law. Just seeing an interstate bus- or truck driver gabbing on a cellphone can be cause for law enforcement to make a stop.
“This is really huge,” Slosberg said. “Not only are we penalizing the drivers if they’re texting and driving. We’re penalizing the companies. And the companies are behind us.”
A first-time offense can cost a driver $500; an employer $2,750.
The federal prohibition went into effect in January 2012. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the measure was needed because commercial drivers who reach for or dial a cellphone while driving are far more likely to be involved in a crash.