Florida lawmakers ask for data on distracted driving laws, Matt Austin delivers

Can we get lawmakers to drive change?

By Matt Austin - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - News 6 anchor Matt Austin went to Tallahassee this week to ask Florida lawmakers if they will take action against distracted driving.

Florida’s distracted driving laws are behind other states that already have texting and driving penalties in place.

Speaker of the House Rep. Richard Corcoran told Austin he needs more evidence that distracted driving laws work.

“Anecdotal evidence does not get you to a great conclusion every single time,” Corcoran said. “What gets you to a great conclusion is making decisions based on the facts and the evidence.”

“Show me the data that these types of laws truly work in states, and I have a very open mind to it,” Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg) said. “But the data that I’ve seen, and the states that I’ve reviewed on testing and driving, show the data is at best suspect.”

Austin found numbers to back up the need for change.

An American Journal of Public Health study found that overall hospitalization rates decline by 7 percent in states that had a texting and driving ban versus states with no ban.

States with that enforced texting as a primary offense benefited, according to the 2003-2010 study.

Florida lawmakers are currently refusing to get behind distracted driving laws, Austin said.

Another study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Heath looked at the affects of auto fatalities in 48 states from 2000 to 2010.

Learn more about Matt Austin's "Driving Change" push here | Share your distracted driving stories here

States with primary enforcement laws saw a 3 percent reduction in deaths across all age groups, an average drop of 19 deaths per year, according to the study.

For bans on drivers from ages 15-21 death by auto crashes dropped by 11 percent.

“If the numbers are there, then why would lawmakers not make this a priority?” Austin said.

Former Florida Rep. Irv Slosberg said it’s all about the money.

“There are no lobbyists giving money for road safety,” he told News 6. “There’s no money.”

Many News 6 viewers have contacted the station to find out how to help push legislation forward.

“Feel free to find these lawmakers online,” Austin said. “And tell them how you feel and how you’ve been affected.”

Here's how to contact your lawmakers:

 

Look up your legislators at flsenate.gov and at myfloridahouse.gov. The search results will include a mailing address, phone number and email address for your local state senators and representatives.

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