A push for legislation to place restrictions on drivers’ cell phone use has begun in Florida in the wake of a highly publicized report read by Historic City News that calls attention to the dangers of driving while talking or texting.
Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, filed a bill (HB 41) that would ban texting while driving. Several bills dealing with driving distractions have been filed over the past few years, but have never gained traction. We think that they are overdue.
Under the legislation, “no person shall operate a moving motor vehicle while reading, manually writing or typing, or sending a message on an electronic wireless communications device.”
Holder has pushed for the legislation previously and said in a press release that it was time that Florida addressed the issue.
“This is the third year in a row that I have filed the bill in the Florida House and I will continue to do so to keep the issue in the forefront,” Holder said.
Holder’s bill comes following the recent release by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute of a study showing drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved or nearly involved in an accident if they are text messaging while driving. The study concluded that drivers are nearly three times as likely to be involved or nearly involved in an accident while dialing a phone and 1.3 times as likely while talking on the phone.
Holder’s bill would include provisions that would not penalize people who are texting to “report illegal activity; summon medical or other emergency help; or prevent injury to a person or property.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation banning texting while driving, and others have banned it for drivers with learners’ permits. Six states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phones while driving.
By KATHLEEN HAUGHNEY
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA