Proposed Bills To Ban Texting, Teen Cellphone Use in Florida
January 27, 2015
Two proposed bills by Florida lawmakers aim to further limit texting and cellphone use by Florida drivers. One bill seeks to make texting behind the wheel a primary offense. The other bill would prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers under the age of 18.
One of the proposed bills sponsored by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota and Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, would change Florida’s current anti-texting law from a secondary offense to a primary offense and would add enhanced penalties for those drivers caught texting in school zones or school crossing zones.
Florida’s current anti-texting bill is a “secondary offense” meaning that a law enforcement officer can only issue a ticket if he or she observes a driver texting while, at the same time, committing a “primary offense” such as speeding or running a red light. As a result, very few tickets have been issued for texting since the law went into effect.
Teen Cell Phone Ban
Another of the proposed bills sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would prohibit the use of any type of “mobile telecommunications device” by drivers under the age of 18. Violation of this law would be considered a nonmoving offense.
Graduated Driving License Laws (GDL), are laws enacted in most states to gradually introduce teens to the driving environment. These laws are designed to give give teens more driving experience without distractions by limiting the number of passengers they can carry and by prohibiting the use of cell phones etc. Currently, 31 states prohibit use of cell phones by teen drivers. Fifteen more states place some sort of limitation on cell phone use by teens. Currently there are no limits on cell phone use by Florida drivers of any age.
Last week, the organization Advocates for Highway Safety, released a state-by-state report card based on state driving safety laws. Florida received a failing grade due to the lack of laws such as those proposed above. Even if these proposed bills were passed, Florida would still have less than half of the laws recommended by the Advocates and their passage would only move Florida from the “red zone” (the State falls dangerously behind in adoption of key safety laws) into the “yellow zone” (the State is advancing but has numerous gaps in its highway safety laws).