A state ban on texting while driving could be closer to becoming a law than ever following its unanimous approval in the State Senate Tuesday; a bill is expected to come up for a floor vote in the Florida House of Representatives later this week.
The legislation would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police have to first stop drivers for an offense like speeding.
A first violation would be a $30 fine plus court costs. A second or subsequent violation within five years would add three points to the driver's license and a $60 fine.
Republican Sen. Nancy Detert said this is the fourth year she has sponsored a texting ban bill.
Detert told senators the bill will save lives, adding, "It's become an epidemic. It needs to stop and this is the way to stop it."
"Technology as a whole, to include cell phones especially, have become a huge distraction for drivers," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, with the Florida Highway Patrol.
Gaskins wouldn't say whether making the action a secondary offense would make it difficult to enforce, but said any kind of law putting the focus on safe driving will help.
"Texting and other types of distractions are a huge problem for us," he said. "The last several years we've had that we can document across the country over 3,000 deaths related specifically to distracted drivers."
Florida is one of only five states without some type of texting ban, but several lawmakers have said they believe this version of the bill will pass.
Several drivers told FOX 13 they'd be in favor of a ban, including one who said a texting driver almost hit his wife.
"A lady was texting as she was turning and almost hit her and she had to run to get out of the way," said William Wright, a driver from Tampa. "If you're taking your eyes off the road even for a split second, an accident could happen at any moment, any time."
"I have been guilty of it and I think that having children kind of changed my attitude about it," said Forrest Thompson of Tampa. "Many people now just shoot a quick text and it kills people."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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