On April 16, the Florida Senate passed a ban on texting while driving. The ban, which if passed, would be effective as of Oct. 1, 2013, makes texting while driving a secondary traffic offense.
Under Florida law, a driver may only be cited for a secondary traffic offense after being pulled over for a primary driving offense such as speeding or reckless driving. The ban would only apply to texting while a motor vehicle is in motion. There will be no penalty for drivers who pull over and stop to text.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that distracted driving, which includes the use of cell phones and mobile devices, resulted in 3,092 deaths in 2011.
The National Safety Council, a non-profit group that promotes public safety initiatives, estimates that 24 percent of automobile crashes involve drivers using mobile devices. Florida is currently one of only five states that does not ban texting while driving. Second-year Nova Jones said that she is skeptical that the ban will stop drivers from texting.
“There are a lot of things that are dangerous while driving,” Jones said. “People might have an emergency and really need to text.”
A recent poll conducted by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9, found that seventy-one percent of respondents were in favor of the ban.
The Florida House of Representatives must pass the ban by May 3 if it is to be made into law during this legislative session.