The new ban on texting and driving in Florida went into effect on October 1, 2013. The law however lacks much teeth when it comes to enforcement. Under the new law you cannot be stopped for only texting and driving, you must be stopped for another violation first. So apparently you can go ahead and text right in front of a police officer driving next to you and unless you have violated some other traffic law, you can't be pulled over. That is why Florida Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, has proposed a bill that would toughen the existing law.
Under current law, texting while driving is a secondary offense, law enforcement authorities can't pull over a driver just for texting; they must be stopped for another violation. Senator Sachs wants to change the law to make texting while driving a primary offense that does not require a stop for another offense first.
The penalties would remain the same — $30 for the first violation — but Sachs' bill would make it easier for law enforcement to ticket drivers.
Sachs unveiled her proposed measure at a news conference at AutoNation in Fort Lauderdale. Citing statistics about the dangers of texting while driving, which she described as more dangerous than drunken driving.
Sachs said "Using a cellphone while driving a motor vehicle is more dangerous than drinking alcohol, especially for young drivers"
In 2011, texting surpassed alcohol as the leading contributing factor in teen driving deaths, according to Sachs, who noted that texting while driving is six times more likely to cause death than a DUI.
"Every single day in 2011, 11 teenagers were killed in motor vehicle accidents because of mobile phones," Sachs said.
Citing federal data, Sachs said that it takes on average 4.6 seconds for a driver to receive or deliver a text. "(If) you are driving 50 miles per hour, you are covering a football field blind."
The texting-while-driving ban, Sachs said, will change the culture of motorists. She compared it to the spike in seatbelt use following laws in the 1980s that made it a violation not to wear a seatbelt.
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