Florida optimistic on banning texting while driving

For the past two years, Florida has tried to put a ban on texting while driving, without any success.  Since 2007, 10 bills proposed to prohibit texting or using a cell phone in a motor vehicle.  All of them died before they could reach a House committee for discussion.

As Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater told the Miami Herald: “There is a sense that Americans have a responsibility to monitor their behavior.”  It seems lawmakers are hesitant to put a ban on a behavior.  2010 could change that.

Since the beginning of the year, 17 bills have been introduced on the subject of distracted driving.  And with all the news stories about crashes involving a distracted driver, even the state governor, Charlie Crist, said he would support a ban on texting while driving.

To prove how serious their intention is, the House scheduled a workshop to discuss the various bills for mid-February.  In Florida, such workshop precedes committee debates, votes, and amendments, which eventually leads to full House and Senate consideration.

It is still early before the state bans texting while driving.  The workshop will allow lawmakers to discuss various issues, like who should the ban apply to, will there be some exceptions, how will police officers enforce the ban or what punishment is appropriate.  Let’s not forget it took almost 10 years to pass a legislation making seat belt use mandatory.

“I think there are people who were concerned and that we were trying to regulate persons’ lives,” said state Sen. Frederica Wilson to the Miami Herald. “I think now because of national attention it will pass.”

So do we.

Source: Miami Herald, February 10, 2010

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