Florida lawmaker calls for stronger texting while driving law

Rep. Stark wants texting and driving to be primary offense

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

A South Florida representative wants to revise Florida’s Ban on Texting while Driving Law with tougher enforcement and penalties.

Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, filed House Bill 47 on Wednesday. It would allow law enforcement officers to pull drivers over for distracted driving.

Under current law, drivers cannot be pulled over for distracted driving because it is a secondary offense. They have to be pulled over for a primary offensive first to be cited for texting while driving.

The bill would also increase penalties for violations committed in school zones, according to the filed bill.

News 6’s Matt Austin has been pushing for texting and driving to be a primary offense since he was injured in a crash with a driver texting earlier this year.

Under current Florida law, officers are powerless to stop drivers from texting, Austin said.

The bill will be considered during the 2017 regular session.

Deaths from traffic collisions spiked during the first half of 2016, according to the Transportation Department.

Auto insurers said distracted drivers are a big factor in the increase.

Central Florida drivers can share their distracted driving stories here.

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