New traffic laws a focus for lawmakers

Florida lawmakers and police officers are cracking down in 2017 in attempt to make the roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.   It could mean a ticket when you least expect it. 

The Orlando Police Department will use a $49,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to try to keep walkers and bikers from getting hit by cars.  

Sergeant Darren Dillon of the Orlando Police Department said drivers and pedestrians share the blame for traffic tragedies, so in in addition to ticketing drivers his unite will be targeting walkers and bikers. 

They’re starting the year by giving written warnings to pedestrians.  By May, they’ll be writing tickets. 

"Unfortunately sometimes when you write a citation and you affect them in that way, it kind of brings the point home,” Dillon said. 

Orlando is consistently one of the most dangerous places in the country for pedestrians.  According to the Orlando Police Department half of the people who died in car crashes in the city in 2016 were on bike or on foot. 

Florida lawmakers will consider at least two bills aimed at curbing texting while driving when the return to Tallahassee in 2017. 

“I don't think there's a bigger problem that we're dealing with right now,” said Jack Glasure, a businessman who stopped at the rest area in Longwood on Monday.

House Bill 47 would upgrade texting while driving to a primary offense.  It is currently a secondary offense, which means officers can only ticket drivers for texting they catch them doing something else wrong first. 

The measure would apply to drivers of all ages and double the fine for texting while driving in a school zone.
House Bill 69 would also make texting while driving a primary offense, but it would only apply to drivers under the age of 18.