Florida passed an anti-texting-and-driving law two years ago but only as a secondary offense. Last year, the Florida Highway Patrol only issued 2,061 tickets for texting.
Recently, the National Safety Council reported that in the first six months of 2015, traffic fatalities in the U.S. were up 14 percent compared to the same period the year before. Serious injuries were up 30 percent. We are going quickly toward the deadliest driving year since 2007.
News4Jax reports that Senator Thad Atltman from Rocklege has filed a proposed bill to strengthen Florida’s texting-while-driving ban. According to the proposal, the bill would make texting while driving a “primary” offense – meaning police could pull over motorists who violate the ban. Under current law, it is considered a “secondary” offense. That means motorists can only be cited for texting while driving if they are stopped for other reasons. Senator Altman’s measure goes further than a bill (HB 25) filed in August by Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, that would toughen penalties for motorists who text while driving in school zones or at school crossings. Stark’s bill calls for doubling fines for motorists who violate the texting-while-driving ban in the designated school areas. Currently the state only charges violators $30 for a first violation for texting while driving, under a law passed in 2013. A second offense comes with a $60 fine. The new bills are similar to bills the two filed in early 2015, which died in the regular spring session without making it to the floor for a vote in either the House or the Senate. The big difference is that in the spring Sachs and Stark were proposing to change texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. That would have allowed police to pull someone over for just texting and driving.