As you may already know, thirty states have texting while driving bans; however, Florida isn’t one of them. Currently there is new distracted driving legislation being reviewed by the Florida legislature; however, experts are not too hopeful that representatives during this session will pass any laws banning texting while driving. This may be based on the fact that there were 18 distracted driving bills in the past that have been introduced to Florida lawmakers, and every single one of them have failed.
Although, the past has not brought change in this area, there still may be hope that some sort of texting legislation might pass this time around. Here’s a closer look at the nine distracted driving bills being presented in the 2011 legislative session in Florida:
- Senate Bill 80: This bill would prohibit and fine drivers $100 for texting, emailing and instant messaging from behind the wheel.
- Senate Bill 158 and House Bill 79: This bill would ban text messaging while driving in Florida, but cell phone calls would remain legal. First offense would be a non-moving violation, and subsequent offenses within five years would be considered moving violations. If a crash results due to this activity, six points against a driver’s license would take place.
- Senate Bill 758: This bill would require driver education programs to educate drivers on the dangers of using handheld communication devices while driving.
- Senate Bill 1418 and House Bill 835: This bill would ban handheld communication devices and cell phones from drivers under the age of 18. However, it would allow for hands-free operations. First offense is a moving violation, and repeat violations result in six-month license suspension.
- Senate Bill 1840: This bill would require drivers younger than 18 to enroll in an education program that discusses the dangers of using cell phones while driving. It would prohibit drivers 18 and younger from operating a car while using a cell phone or wireless communication device, and it would call for a 30-day license suspension.
- House Bill 689: This bill would require the DMV to provide driver education programs that cover the risks and dangers of using electronic handheld devices while driving.
- House Bill 833: This bill would ban the use of handheld cell phones and other electronic communication devices by drivers under 18 or by school bus drivers; however, hands-free is still allowed. If a death results from this distracted driving activity, 120 hours of community service is possible.
Even the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles have noted that cell phones have played a part in serious accidents in Florida, but they have not taken a position on hands-free legislation this year.
We will keep you updated on any changes that affect drivers in the state of Florida.