In the state capital of Tallahassee, Republican Senator Nancy Detert, Venice, offered up the measure (SB 52) that would ban drivers from manually typing or reading texts, emails or other electronic messages while operating a car last week in the in the Senate. It calls for the offense to be what is known as a “secondary offense”, meaning that officers could only ticket people for texting people while driving if they have stopped them for some other traffic violation. Hypothetically, if a police officer sees someone texting, they cannot pull them over, but if the police officer sees someone speeding or running a stop sign and texting, they could pin on additional charges to the speeding or running the stop sign violation penalty.
Drivers would be allowed to read navigational devices, safety related information, and weather alerts without incurring fines. Under the bill, texting while driving would be a non-moving violation punishable by a $30.00 fine.
Detert has sponsored this proposal the previous two years without success, despite bipartisan support. Lawmakers will be in full session in March. Bills may be submitted now and committee meetings on proposed legislation start December 3rd. This was one of the first bill’s to emerge for the coming year. Detert’s bill has not yet been referred to committee.
The National Transportation Safety Board has urged Florida and other states to ban the use of cell phones for texting and/or talking while driving. The NTSB has stated that cell phone use has contributed to nearly 4,000 highway deaths a year, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Nearly a quarter of American drivers admit to texting and driving occasionally. www.nhtsa.gov/
The scenic beauty of Jupiter, Loxahatchee, Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding areas is distracting enough for local drivers. The turquoise blue Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Jupiter Inlet can beckon the best driver to take his or her eyes off the road for a moment, don’t allow a text message distract you. Take a moment, pull off to the side of the road, take in the beauty of our area, and read your text or email safely!