Texting while driving ban in Florida draws support

Texting while driving ban in Florida draws support

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Florida legislators are looking to ban texting while driving again next year, but the bill is drawing new and increased support.  State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, filed one of the first bills to ban texting while driving.  Newly-elected State Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, says she will be a co-sponsor in the House.

"They've got to have a bill in the Legislature that will address specifically texting while driving because that will have more teeth," says Stewart.  "It will give the officers more teeth and I think that's what needs to be done."

Stewart says even though distracted driving is already a crime in Florida, changing technology is part of the reason why texting should be specifically addressed.

"We have new phones, and now we can voice our messages. We don't have to distract ourselves from the steering wheel," she says.

The effort to ban texting behind the wheel has failed four years in a row. We asked Stewart, why single out texting, when things like putting on makeup can cause accidents too?

"That would be distracting too, I'm sure," she responds with a laugh.

The Federal Highway Safety Administration says more than 6,000 people died in 2010 because of distracted driving, but they did not distinguish between texting and other things that could make a driver lose concentration. The bill would call for texting to be a secondary offense that carries a $30 fine. Law enforcement would not be allowed to pull a driver over simply because they were texting.

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