Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Texting and Driving Don't Mix

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Texting and Driving Don't Mix

Article excerpt

Time for Florida to enact a sensible ban

Now that roadblocks have been removed, perhaps the Florida Legislature will finally pass a law to prohibit motorists from texting while driving.

In recent years, leaders of the House of Representatives -- including former Speaker Dean Cannon and Ellyn Bogdanoff, a powerful committee chairwoman -- stifled voting on anti-texting legislation. The bill died, ironically, in the House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee. (Companion legislation was approved 14-1 in the Senate Budget Committee but the bill stalled.)

Cannon and Bogdanoff have left the House, clearing the way for progress. Rep. Doug Holder, a Sarasota County Republican on good terms with incoming Speaker Will Weatherford, intends to soon introduce a texting-while-driving ban.

In the Senate, Nancy Detert, another Republican from Sarasota County, has already re-introduced the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law" she introduced last year. Detert had some success moving the bill forward during the 2012 legislative session; when the Legislature convenes in March for its annual session, she will have additional clout due to key appointments by Senate President Don Gaetz.

Plus, Detert and Holder will have common sense, public opinion and a growing body of evidence on their side.

Consider the text of the proposed law: "A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing and instant messaging."

Safety on Florida's roads and highways is not promoted by driving while typing. Texting distracts drivers, takes their eyes off the road and leads to weaving in and out of lanes and abrupt -- or belated -- stops.

How much of a distraction? …

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