'This bill gives distracted drivers good reason to put their phone down,' Matt Austin says​

News 6 leads effort to change law

By Melodi Smith - Multimedia Journalist, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - News 6 anchor Matt Austin began his testimony before the Florida Legislature's Judiciary Committee in Tallahassee Thursday to implore lawmakers to approve House Bill 33.

Austin shared this story that began in September 2016, when he suffered a severe concussion in a crash involving a suspected distracted driver, and that's how the "Driving Change" initiative was born. The initiative's goal is to make texting and driving a primary offense.

Share your distracted driving story with News 6, here

 "Forty-six states have primary enforcement (for texting and driving), but we (Florida) do not," Austin said. "As you know all legitimate data shows primary enforcement saves lives." 
 

Watch Austin's full testimony, below: 

News 6 has covered several stories to get results and speak to the people directly affected by texting and driving. 

"I have heard lawmakers argue that this may not affect the problem, but I don't know about you, but I am not going to pay $120 in court costs and tickets to send one text message," Austin said.  "We have the opportunity to do something very special and rare in this building today. You have a well-written bipartisan bill with a bunch of support that protects Floridians from all angles." 
 

Last year, lawmakers told Austin that they didn't have the data to back up the need for such legislation.

In late 2017 lawmakers introduced bills in the Senate and House that would make distracted driving in Florida illegal. Both bills, HB 30 and SB 90, have been moving swiftly through committees.

The Lake County Commission passed a narrow resolution to support legislation that makes texting and driving a primary offense.
 

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