A proposed law penalizing people who text while driving survived its first hurdle Thursday in the Florida House of Representatives. It is similar to laws adopted by other states, so there is plenty of experience to review.
The common motivation is the danger posed by such behavior. The common reality is difficulty in enforcing the bans out on the street, especially at highway speeds.
"It's going to be very difficult for a law enforcement officer to see that somebody's actually texting," Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri predicted. "Most people, [the device is] down low, it's down below window level, so I think from an enforcement standpoint it's going to be very, very challenging. I would be surprised to see a lot of enforcement from it."
Like some other states, Florida's law would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means an officer would also have to witness a primary moving violation, such as running a stop sign or failing to stay within a driving lane.
The legislation also includes numerous exemptions, such as using a navigation device or looking up a telephone number. Drivers in other states have learned to use those excuses if stopped.
But none of this negates the underlying motivation for the legislation.
"Should we really need a law to tell people don't do something that's unsafe?" the sheriff asked. "We shouldn't but apparently we do because people are doing it."
Proponents argue just the possibility of a citation will prevent many people from texting while driving, and such "voluntary compliance" makes the prohibition worthwhile.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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