It’s been almost five months since the Florida ban on texting while driving went into effect, making the Sunshine State the 41st state to prohibit one of the most deadly forms of distracted driving. The ban makes texting while driving a secondary offense, referring to the sending of both emails and text messages, meaning that a person must be violating another law in order to be pulled over. Since the announcement of the secondary offense portion of the law, backlash has run rampant throughout Florida. Drivers wonder how impactful the law can be as a secondary offense. Law enforcement officials throughout the state agree that this is a step in the right direction, but Florida residents want change and they want it now.
Towns and cities across Florida have spoken out about the lack of texting while driving citations written, often pointing to the secondary offense aspect as the reason for additional legal action. For instance, in Ocala only two citations have been written thus far for texting while driving violations. In the Northeast of Florida, particularly in Clay County, law enforcement has written zero citations for the texting violation. St. John’s County has also reported zero texting while driving citations. Many law enforcement offices are pointing to the secondary offense as the problem, stating that the texting while driving is “an extremely difficult statute to enforce”.
The scattered issues with enforcing the new texting law paired with previous predictions that the law would fail to prevent motor vehicle accidents, lawmakers in Florida are taking a stand against the new ban. Senator Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, filed a bill last Friday which would attempt to strengthen enforcement in regard to texting while driving. The new bill (SB 322) would serve to making texting while driving a primary offense, thus allowing police to stop and cite any motorist who is texting while driving, regardless of whether another offense took place or not. Sen. Sachs stated that the bill will be filed for the 2014 Florida legislative session.
The bill, SB 322: Use of Wireless Communications Devices while Driving, removes the sections which states that the citations are issued as a secondary offense. Sen. Sachs along with many Florida drivers feel that this is the only way to truly make a stand against texting while driving in Florida. What do you think about the new ban on texting while driving? Has it helped you to put your phone down while operating your vehicle? Share your opinions and comments below.