Texting While Driving Ban Picking Up Speed in Legislature
March 14, 2013 | WMFE - The House version of a bill that would make it illegal to text and drive has passed through another committee Wednesday. The House Civil Justice subcommittee approved version of the measure co-sponsored by Republican Representatives Doug Holder of Venice and Ray Pilon of Sarasota.
Holder told the committee that 25 percent of auto accidents are caused by texting and driving.
"When you're talking on your cell phone, you're four times more likely to have an accident. When you're texting while driving, you're 23 times more likely to have an accident." Holder said.
Holder’s bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense meaning that drivers could only be ticketed for texting or talking on the phone if they've already been pulled over for something else.
That provision provoked some discussion among committee members. Several said they would prefer to make it possible for police to stop a driver only for the offense of texting or talking on the phone.
But Representative Holder says making it a secondary offense will mean it will be easier to get the bill through both chambers and actually pass a law. Similar bills have died in the legislature in each of the past four years.
Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Sheridan says he's seen a frightening increase in the number of people text and drive.
"I see it both on and off duty.” Sheridan told the committee. “It's becoming more and more of a trend now and we need to break that trend and reduce crashes.”
The bill next heads to the House Economic Affairs Committee before it goes before the full House for a vote.
A similar bill sponsored by Republican Senator Nancy Detert of Venice is making its way through the state Senate.