Florida texting while driving ban gets new push in Tallahassee

Proposed legislation expected to be heard in January

The long battle to make it illegal for Florida drivers to text while driving may finally be over.

State Senators Nancy Detert (R) Venice and Thad Altman (R) Brevard County, have filed separate legislation that would ban drivers from texting while behind the wheel.
Both legislators are confident they will have support on both sides of the aisle to get a texting while driving ban passed in the 2013 session in Tallahassee.

Detert's proposal, Senate Bill 52, would make texting while driving a "secondary offense" much the same as Florida's current seatbelt law. She says she has been trying to pass a "no texting" bill for five years.

"This bill is so important to me because we see people texting while driving every day! Texting drivers exhibit the same behavior as a drunk driver or someone driving with their eyes closed. It needs to stop," Detert said.

Federal Highway statistics show 8000 accidents a day are caused by distracted drivers nationwide while more than 25,000 were reported in Florida last year alone.

Altman tells Local 6 he will support Detert's legislation but he has also filed a measure that would make it illegal for teen drivers to text while behind the wheel. That same measure was filed last session but never made it to a subcommittee hearing.

"If you polled the general public, even those who may text and drive from a particular time, they'll tell you this should be outlawed," Altman said.

Opposition to the texting ban has hinged on the contention that the law would infringe on our privacy but Altman says that does not add up.

"These esoteric arguments of government intrusion makes no sense and they don't apply in this situation," he said.

TextFace.com the aggressive internet program that takes hidden cameras across the nation's highways to catch drivers texting behind the wheel will be watching developments in Tallahassee closely.

"Textface is encouraged that the state of Florida is looking at legislation that would eliminate texting while driving. Fatalities, injuries and accidents that are caused by texting and driving are needless, and we support legislators who are actively trying to introduce a new bill to protect the citizens of Florida. We applaud their efforts," said Textface spokesperson Scott Emerine.

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