Relatively few texting-and-driving citations in Florida - FOX 13 News

Relatively few texting-and-driving citations in Florida

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

While it may be against the law to text and drive now in Florida, few motorists are getting tickets even if they're caught breaking the law.

Since the new law took effect back on October 1, there have been just 803 citations issued statewide. In the nine-county Tampa Bay area, the number is just 109 citations over a six-month period.

"I see it not only at intersections, but driving along the road," said motorist Brian Leist. "People texting, surfing, thumbs wiggling on the phone."

A main reason the numbers are so small is that texting and driving is a secondary offense and law enforcement needs another reason to pull over a driver if they spot them texting while driving.

"He's drifting to the left," Sgt. Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol noted as he pulled next to a driver on Kennedy Boulevard one afternoon last month.

But Gaskins told FOX 13 he could not issue a citation because the driver has done nothing else to give him a reason to pull over the vehicle.

"The primary violation has to occur first. So you have to have someone speeding or running a red light, what have you, before the enforcement action can take place for a texting and driving violation," Gaskins explained.

While it's certainly more difficult to cite a driver for texting and driving than a seat belt violation, which is a primary violation, troopers believe the new law is having a positive impact because drivers are more educated. Law enforcement also points to Distraction.gov, a new awareness campaign launched by the federal government.

LINK: State-by-state laws: http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html

TABLE: County-by-county texting citations; data courtesy FHP.

COUNTY Oct-13 Nov-13 Dec-13 Jan-14 Feb-14 Mar-14 Total
ALACHUA 10 7 7 5 2 0 31
BAY 2 1 2 2 0 3 10
BREVARD 5 3 1 0 4 0 13
BROWARD 9 21 13 14 16 10 83
CALHOUN 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
CHARLOTTE 0 1 1 1 1 0 4
CITRUS 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
COLLIER 5 1 1 3 1 0 11
COLUMBIA 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
DESOTO 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
DUVAL 8 5 1 3 5 3 25
ESCAMBIA 1 1 1 0 2 0 5
FLAGLER 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
GADSDEN 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
HENDRY 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
HERNANDO 0 0 0 0 1 3 4
HILLSBOROUGH 6 5 6 2 8 5 32
INDIAN RIVER 4 3 0 0 0 1 8
LAKE 2 1 1 1 1 2 8
LEE 6 11 6 9 7 10 49
LEON 1 2 0 0 0 1 4
LEVY 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
MARION 2 1 2 3 3 3 14
MARTIN 0 1 0 0 3 1 5
MIAMI–DADE 48 35 41 34 23 19 200
NASSAU 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
OKALOOSA 1 0 2 0 0 0 3
ORANGE 11 12 9 7 7 8 54
OSCEOLA 1 0 1 1 1 0 4
PALM BEACH 16 14 10 29 10 6 85
PASCO 1 3 2 3 1 1 11
PINELLAS 7 1 4 7 9 5 33
POLK 3 1 1 1 2 0 8
PUTNAM 0 0 1 1 0 2 4
SANTA ROSA 2 0 2 1 1 1 7
SARASOTA 10 1 2 4 3 1 21
SEMINOLE 5 4 5 6 2 3 25
ST. JOHNS 0 1 1 0 1 2 5
ST. LUCIE 2 3 2 0 2 3 12
SUWANNEE 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
VOLUSIA 2 2 1 1 1 6 13
WASHINGTON 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Grand Total 174 143 126 142 118 100 803

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