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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 Proposed Ban on Texting While Driving in Florida

In recent years texting while driving has become a heated topic throughout the country. Currently, about 135 billion text messages are sent or received in any given month in the United States. That number represents an 80-percent increase since 2008. So, it's no wonder that law makers are starting to take notice.

In 2010, bans on texting while driving will go into effect in New Hampshire, Oregon, and Illinois. Florida may also be added to that list. If a proposed bill is passed, Florida’s ban could go into effect on October 1, 2010. Including the three previously mentioned states, 19 US states and Washington DC currently have bans on texting while driving in place. Six additional states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington) ban drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving. Drivers in those states are still allowed to talk using a hand-free device such as a Bluetooth. No state bans talking on a hands-free device while driving, however some experts predict there may be pushes for such bans in the future.

Florida's proposed ban on texting while driving is moving quickly through legislation. In March, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously pushed forward a bill that would make texting while driving a secondary offense. A secondary offense allows law enforcement officers to write citations after they have pulled you over for another primary offense. For example, a driver could be pulled over if he or she is caught rolling through a stop sign while texting. In that situation, the officer would issue a citation for the primary offense (failing to stop at the stop sign) and the secondary offense (texting while driving).

In the proposed bill, the first offense will result in a $30 fine. If a driver is convicted of a second offense within five years the fine will be raised to $60. Some law makers are unhappy with the secondary offense classification of the proposed bill. They feel it should be a primary law because texting while driving is a distraction to drivers and puts other, innocent drivers at risk. Texting while driving has been named the cause of several fatal accidents across the country in recent years. These accidents and the desire to prevent further fatalities is a major driving force behind the movement to ban texting across the country.

Research has shown the majority of the country supports a ban on texting. However, research has also shown that a large portion of people who support a ban are also guilty of texting while driving. It seems to be another "it can't happen to me" situation. Similar to the way people think when they drink and drive. That is, until it does happen to them.

Whether or not Florida is the next state to ban texting while driving or not, Florida drivers should put down their phones and pay attention to the road. Drivers need to abandon the "It can"t happen to me" philosophy and realize that texting while driving is distraction and dangerous.

Read more about the Cost of Texting and Driving.

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