Two Florida lawmakers recently introduced legislation to increase the penalties for texting while driving in a school zone, a welcome proposal that will hopefully pass and help reduce texting while driving accidents in Florida, according to South Florida car accident attorney Adriana Gonzalez of Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A.
"Anything legislators in Florida can do to protect our children needs to be done as soon as possible," Gonzalez said. "Texting while driving is against the law in Florida. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore this law and continue to text behind the wheel. That's why this proposed piece of legislation will hopefully change drivers' habits and get them to stop texting in school zones and everywhere else on the road as well."
State Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, and state Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, recently introduced legislation to increase the penalties for drivers texting while driving in a school zone in Florida, according to several recent news articles, including one published by the Tampa Bay Times. (Tampa Bay Times, "Another attempt to toughen Florida's texting while driving law," Sept. 10, 2015)
If approved the proposed legislation would increase the penalty for texting while driving in a school zone in Florida from $30 to $60 for the first violation, according to Tampa Bay Times article. The proposed legislation would also increase the penalty for the second violation, from $60 to $120, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Somewhat similar proposals did not make it to a floor vote in the Florida legislature earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The main difference was the failed bills introduced earlier this year would have given the police the authority to pull someone over simply for texting while driving. Currently, Florida law requires police to issue drivers a ticket for another offense, such as speeding, when pulling someone over for texting while driving.
Texting while driving has become one of the leading causes of car accidents nationwide. Drivers who read or write a text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and reported on by numerous news outlets, including The New York Times. (The New York Times, "In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk by Large Margin," July 27, 2009) More statistics about dangers of texting while driving can also be found at http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats
Texting while driving accidents can easily be prevented, according to Charles Cartwright of Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. "All drivers have to do is put down their phone. It's that simple," Cartwright said. "Another recent study found that teenager drivers feel obligated to respond to a text while driving, especially from a parent, as soon as possible. Teenagers and other drivers need to understand the risks of such activity. And if their parents knew they were doing this, I'm sure every parent would agree that every text can wait. Nothing's more important than everyone's safety on the road."
Gonzalez agreed. "We need to do more to educate drivers about the dangers of texting while driving and smart decisions they can make every day to keep everyone safer on the road," Gonzalez said. "Proposed legislation like the bills recently introduced to increase the penalties for texting while driving in a school zone are a step in the right direction. But more needs to be done and that includes drivers stepping up and taking more responsibility for their actions and putting down their phones."