MiamiHerald / Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky says it is hard to separate texting drivers from drunken drivers as he cruises down a suburban interstate highway. Both weave. They speed up and slow down for no obvious reason and get too close to other cars. They endanger their lives and others.
“There’s one,” he says, as a woman zips past. But even though he could see her texting, he couldn’t ticket her – Florida statutes wouldn’t allow it because she wasn’t breaking any other traffic laws.
Florida, with some of the nation’s deadliest roads, is one of the last states to not fully ban texting while driving, but the Legislature will soon consider a bill that would. However, studies conflict over whether such bans have any effect.
Currently, Florida law says texting by noncommercial drivers is a secondary offense – law enforcement officers must see another violation like speeding or an illegal lane change before they cite a driver for texting. The bill would make texting a primary offense. The fine for a first offense would remain $30 plus court costs and add no points to the driver’s record. Previous attempts have failed, but this bill has support from legislative leaders.