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texting while driving’

Scott to sign texting ban

Friday, May 24th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott is ready to make Florida the nation’s 40th state to smackdown smartphones — saying he will sign legislation next week to ban texting while driving.

“As a father and a grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me when my loved ones are on the road,” Scott said Friday. “The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the deadliest days on the road for teenagers. We must do everything we can at the state level to keep our teenagers and everyone on our roads safe.”

Scott plans to sign the texting ban, SB 52, on Tuesday at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Miami.

The legislation would make texting while driving a secondary offense. Motorists could be ticketed only if law enforcement officials stopped them for another reason, like careless driving.

A ticket could cost first-time offenders $30, plus court costs. But the bill includes exemptions that allow motorists to use phones to check maps, use voice-commands or listen to the radio through their phones.

Drivers also could text while stopped at a light, under the legislation. Talking on a cell phone would not be restricted.

After more than a decade of talk, a text ban appears certain

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Without much fanfare, the Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would make it illegal to text-while-driving – positioning Florida to pass its first measure cracking-down on smartphone use behind the wheel after more than a decade of failed proposals.

“This bill is long overdue,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale.

The legislation (CS/SB 52) cleared the Senate 36-0. Sponsor Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has been pushing the proposal for four years but had run into a wall in the House, where former Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, refused to allow the measure heard.

Detert on Tuesday praised new House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel,  for  letting House members this spring “to have a voice.”

The House is expected to approve the legislation this week, sending it to Gov. Rick Scott,  who has indicated he will allow it to become law.

The measure would make texting while driving a secondary offense. Motorists could be ticketed only if law enforcement officials stopped them for another reason.

A ticket could cost first-time offenders $30, plus court costs. But the bill includes exemptions allowing people to use phones to check maps, use voice-commands or listen to the radio through their phones.

Drivers also could text while stopped at a light, under the legislation. Talking on a cell phone would not be restricted.

But new research by economists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee challenges whether a proposal like Florida’s will do much to discourage texting while driving.

Analyzing traffic fatality data from 2007-2010, Scott Adams and colleague Rahi Abouk found law enforcement officials have a difficult time distinguishing drivers who are texting illegally and those who are legally talking on a cell phone while driving.

When drivers are allowed to use their phones, attempting to make a specific kind of phone use illegal – like texting – makes enforcement virtually impossible, the economists concluded.

Even in the 10 states where the use of hand-helds is a primary traffic offense, including Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, heightened law enforcement is needed to maintain the prohibition’s potential to reduce accidents, the researchers found. Florida would become the 40th state to prohibit all drivers from texting.

“There has to be some fear to this, or it’s no deterrent,” Adams told The Palm Beach Post.

 

 

Senate committee gives green light to texting ban

Monday, April 8th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Legislation that would make Florida the 40th state in the nation to ban texting while driving was approved Monday by a Senate committee, with the full House expected to follow suit later this week.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, sponsor of the measure (CS/SB 52) that cleared the Judiciary Committee on an 8-0 vote, said it’s taken lawmakers years to come around to restrictions long supported by the public.

“The public is ahead of the politicians,” said Detert. “The big change in the politicians is every time they go home people say, ‘how come we never pass that texting-while-driving bill?’ It’s gone from public support to public frustration. They’re as frustrated as I am.”

Detert, R-Venice, and Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, have proposed identical measures (SB 52, HB 13) that would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning motorists could be ticketed only if law-enforcement officials had stopped them for another reason.

A ticket could cost first-time offenders $30, plus court costs. But the bills also include exemptions allowing people to use phones to check maps, use voice-commands or listen to the radio through the phone. Drivers also could text while stopped at a light, under the legislation.

“It’s pretty clear this will save lives if we pass it,” said Sen. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee.

The Senate has advanced Detert’s bill in earlier years. But the proposed ban has been rejected by Florida’s more conservative House. The past two years, then-House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, refused to let the measure be heard in committees.

Current House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has torn down the roadblock.

“New leadership in the House has been very important,” Detert said. “They’ve been held mute all these years, and now they’re allowed to express their opinion.”

AAA Auto Club South says a survey it commissioned shows 87 percent of motorists support laws prohibiting texting or emailing while driving.

Still, the same survey showed that 69 percent of Americans acknowledge talking on their cellphones while driving within the past 30 days, while 24 percent say they have sent texts or emails.

Older voters want text-while-driving ban, survey shows

Monday, February 4th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Voters age 50 and older overwhelmingly back legislative efforts to ban texting-while-driving, a new survey by AARP shows.

Some 93 percent of older voters polled support the prohibition, compared with only 5 percent who say they oppose such a law. The Legislature has considered some kind of text-ban for more than a decade, but advocates say the measure faces its best chance of becoming law this year.

A measure banning texting (SB 52) is slated to go before the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

AARP has 2.8 million members in Florida.

In other matters covered in the December survey of 880 Floridians, AARP found a majority (52 percent) support requiring online retailers to collect the state’s 6 percent sales tax from consumers, the same as brick-and-mortar retailers. Another 60 percent oppose the 2006 law that allowed Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy of Florida to collect money for nuclear power plants before building them.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has said he’s open to taking another look at the law.

AARP, which is supporting the Medicaid expansion Gov. Rick Scott and Florida lawmakers are still considering,  also found most surveyed want more state attention and money going to long-term care.

The survey has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent.

 

Negron sez no 2 ‘Dnt txt n drv’ bill

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Texting while driving would be a new moving violation under a bill approved by a Senate committee this morning over the objections of Sen. Joe Negron, who said distracted drivers can already be punished under existing law.

Negron cast the sole “no” vote on the measure (SB 416) which would make texting and driving a secondary offense – meaning police could not ticket drivers unless they are pulled over for another reason – punishable by a minimum $30 fine and a six-point drivers license violation if it results results in an accident.

Florida law already includes a reckless driving – which carries a minimum $25 fine and can result in prison sentences –moving violation, which should cover problematic texting, Negron argued. That means law enforcement officers can now pull over “someone weaving down the road while they’re texting” and give them a ticket, said Negron, a lawyer.

And it would be difficult for authorities to determine if someone texting just because they are using an electronic device, Negron said.

“What if I was just looking at my Blackberry to get the address of where I’m driving to. Is that texting because I punched a number and something came up for me to read? What about navigation devices? To me there are legitimate uses of electronic device while you’re driving. Texting is not one of them,” Negron said.

The bill is based on a sample law provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, encouraging states to enact legislation to ban texting and driving. The Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee approved the measure, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, by a 12-1 vote this morning.

Negron said lawmakers need to be careful before creating new crimes, which he said they have done too often in the past.

“I think if we would simply enforce the careless driving law that we already have that that would send a message to stop that,” he said.

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