Florida drivers may be forced to pay more attention to the road and less to their inboxes.
The texting-while-driving ban was approved by the Florida Budget Committee on Feb. 21.
Florida is one of 15 states without a ban on texting while driving. Senate bill 416 makes texting, email and instant messaging while driving a secondary offense. Exceptions to the law allow the use of navigation systems on wireless devices and limits messaging only to red lights.
The bill will take effect Oct. 1, if passed by the Senate.
First-time violators may be issued a non-moving violation with a $30 fine. Subsequent offenses within five years of one another may be issued a $60 fine and three points against their driver’s license.
Sen. Joe Negron was the only person who voted “nay” after official roll call. More than 71 percent of Florida voters are in favor of the ban.
“I don’t like [texting] because it’s dangerous and irresponsible,” said Joshua Ellison, a Florida A&M alumnus. “Looking away from the road for just one second can cause someone’s life and put another driver in danger.”
Gov. Rick Scott has not supported such legislation in the past. He vetoed House bill 689, which would have required the
Department of Motor Vehicles to provide education on the dangers of distracted driving.
“I feel texting and driving is something that needs to be taken away,” said Aubreeana Montgomery, a nursing student from Orlando. “It is very dangerous and anything can happen if it isn’t banned.”
A 2009 study by Car and Driver magazine editor Eddie Alterman showed that texting and driving was more dangerous than drunk driving.
He said an individual operating an automobile at 60 mph will have an additional 68 feet added to their stopping distance while sending or reading a text message or email, almost 30 percent longer than a drunk driver.
“Texting and driving is something everyone has done at one point in their life, despite its dangerousness,” said Janyah Glenn, a criminal justice student. “It should be prohibited in all states.”