Gov. Rick Scott signed the ban into law Tuesday. The ban prohibits motorists from using cell phones to text or email while operating a vehicle in most circumstances. Drivers can continue to use phones for navigation, weather and to listen to the radio, and they can also use talk-to-text devices such as the iPhone.
Law enforcement can pull a driver over only if they've committed some other infraction, such as speeding. They also cannot require motorists to hand over their phone as proof they've been texting or emailing. The law carries a first-time fine of $30.
Florida becomes the 41st state to ban texting while driving. Scott signed the bill (SB 52) into law at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School. "Just the fact that it'll be illegal to text and drive, I think that's going to stop our teenagers, stop citizens from texting and driving," Scott said. "We're going to monitor this."
Last week, Scott vetoed $1 million that was inserted into the state budget for a marketing campaign to explain the ban. He said Tuesday the money did not meet his criteria of being good for education or keeping the cost of living low.
The legislature has tried for five years to ban texting in Florida even though most Floridians support a texting while driving ban.
Texting contributed to at least 189 crashes in Florida in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Nationwide, more than 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting, according to the National Safety Council.