An estimated 50,000 crashes every year in Florida are attributed to distraction, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These collisions lead to 3,500 serious bodily injuries and nearly 250 deaths. Further, it’s a phenomenon that has spiked 26 percent just in the last four years, largely thanks to the advent of cell phones.
But for all the destruction and havoc it wreaks, texting and driving is not a primary offense in Florida. What this means is a law enforcement officer may clearly spot a driver who is in violation of F.S. 316.305 (Florida’s texting-and-driving law), and would be able to do nothing about it – even with clear and unequivocal proof – unless that driver was also in violation of a primary offense.
That could change if a bill passes that would make texting while driving a primary offense. It’s not the first time such a measure has been proposed, as The Tampa Bay Times reports, but this time it has the support of several key legislative leaders. The new bill would keep the fine for texting and driving at a meager $30 and there still would not be any points added to the driver’s record if there was a violation. The main difference would be that officers would have the power to stop and cite motorists solely for violating that offense. Continue reading →