The days of carelessly texting while driving is becoming a thing of the past, as Senate Bill 90 cracks down on texting and driving laws, and would allow law enforcement to give citations to those who do.
The bill, which is similar to House Bill 33 that goes into effect on July 1, would make texting while driving a primary offense and, according to The Florida Senate, would require a deposit of fines into the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.
In 2017, Gainesville Sen. Keith Perry introduced the bill. Perry stated, “I’m proud to sponsor this vital piece of legislation that will make texting and driving a primary offense in the State of Florida and join the many other states who have answered the call for safer roadways,” according to Click Orlando.
Currently, Florida, which has one of the weakest texting and driving laws among states, as stated by WTSP, allows officers to only cite for texting and driving if the driver is pulled over for another offense.
The most significant reason for making texting while driving a primary offense is to create a safer environment on the road. There was 392,395 car crashes in Florida in 2017, with 2,958 of them being fatal, according to FIRES Portal.
There is a great possibility that the roads will be a much safer place with the new law. Renaldo Flowers, a freshman pre-physical therapy student at Florida A&M University, thinks highly of the new bill.
“People will be safer than ever, and they won’t touch their phone because they don’t want to get a ticket,” Flowers said. While he does think that the bill will help in road safety, he does not necessarily think it will limit accidents.
“It wouldn’t limit accidents, but it will decrease the number of accidents. The word limit makes it seem like they will be kept to a minimum. However, the accidents will drop, it just won’t be a drastic change,” said Flowers.
A major concern with the texting law is the racial profiling that may come with it. In the African American community, profiling is an ever-growing problem, and the law could possibly give law enforcement another reason to pull over black drivers.
Andrew Grant, a sophomore biology pre-medicine student at FAMU, without a doubt believes that these new texting laws would place black drivers in a dangerous situation.
“Before this law, police had to at least try to make up a reason to pull someone over, such as running a stop sign or anything that would put the driver at fault,” said Grant. “But now, it’s up to their discretion. They can fabricate it and say someone was on their phone when they weren’t. It gives the officers the discretion.”
As of January 25, the law is in appropriations and it would go into effect on October 1.