Bill bans texting while driving

Drivers beware. Texting while driving may soon become illegal in the state of Florida. So far, 19 other states have passed a bill that could leave distracted drivers facing serious consequences. Legislators have been discussing this bill for the past three years. The failure of these efforts in the past has left some discouraged. However many remain optimistic that Florida will join the bandwagon of other states that passed the bill. On Wednesday, the House committee pushed the bill forward. “It’s a public safety issue. The intention of this bill is to save lives in Florida by prohibiting texting while driving so we can reduce deaths and accidents,” said Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, one of many elected officials who have lobbied for the bill.Texting has become a part of everyday life for many students at Florida A&M. This convenient communication tool has become so natural that students often send texts in untraditional places, such as behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, while walking on the street and in class. “I believe texting while driving is just as dangerous as talking on the phone while driving. They created cars enabled with Bluetooth for a reason. People should use it,” said 19-year-old Dailyn Sailor. “Texting while driving is not for everybody. Some people become really unfocused on the road and that is what leads to accidents,” said Sailor, a sophomore from Quincy, Fla. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers who text are more than 20 times more likely to get into car collisions than drivers who are concentrating on the road.Case studies taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010 show that texting while driving is a dangerous habit. Since 2002, there have been 955 deaths and 240,000 crashes associated with texting drivers. Gov. Charlie Crist, Julie Jones, director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and other political figures across the state have come out in support of a texting while driving ban.Legislative leaders are discussing the proposals, but they said they need to reach a consensus before a vote can be cast. “We are too hooked on instant communication, not only texting while driving, but texting anywhere in general,” said Ariel Boone, 20, a sophomore healthcare student from Clearwater, Fla. “Sending or receiving texts are a big distraction in class as well as behind the wheel, but I think even if legislators ban it, the saga will continue.” Texting is only one of the many distractions drivers face on the road, but it is one that could potentially land them behind bars. First-time violators can be fined $30 or more. Second offenses within five years will be considered a moving violation. The proposed bill will make texting while driving a secondary offense. Drivers cannot read from any type of device while behind the wheel. According to the Miami Herald, last April, a California woman was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a woman in a car accident caused by texting while driving.