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Florida to possibly ban texting behind the wheel

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board released a recommendation to ban cell phone use while driving nationwide. While Florida has yet to ban the arguably dangerous act of texting and driving, legislation outlawing the practice could be coming down the pipe soon.

Researchers have long argued whether texting while driving puts a motorist at an increased risk of a car accident or collision. For the most part, studies support findings that texting while driving is considered distracted driving, which was responsible for over 3,000 fatalities last year.

Despite the fact that many people admit to taking part in this dangerous behavior, a surprisingly large amount of people would not mind seeing it banned. Even with the popularity of the bill, it has yet to have been accepted. This is the third time legislators will try and get the bill passed. Members of the Senate Transportation Committee have already voted to move this recent proposal forward in the hopes that it will pass in 2012.

However, the proposed ban does not take a very hard line on this form of distracted driving, treating it as a secondary offense. This means that a police officer could not pull over a driver simply for texting. Law enforcement could, however, tack on a citation for texting if they do pull a driver over for another offense.

Motorists would still be allowed to text when stopped at a red light. The second violation within a five-year period would garner a $60 fine as opposed to $30 for the first. If a driver was using a cell phone and it resulted in a crash, it would add six points to their license.

The senator that sponsored the bill said that drivers should be entitled to do whatever they want, but when it causes potential accidents or harm to others, the law should be examined. When an accident stems from texting or other forms of distracted driving, the results could be a wrongful death lawsuit or catastrophic injury.

Source: Miami Herald, "Legislators try again to ban texting while driving," Katie Sanders, Dec. 11, 2011

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