"Cell Phone While Driving Ban" Proposed in State Legislature

By: Meagan O'Halloran Email
By: Meagan O'Halloran Email

The single biggest threat to our teenagers’ health is vehicle crashes. The experts say distractions, specifically talking and texting on cell phones, are a major contributing factor.
Florida is not one of the fourteen states that have passed laws banning their practice and some people are pushing for new legislation.
“If you see this and you’re texting while driving, just know that you can take a limb or a life—in a moment—in a second.”
Larry Noel speaks with tears in his eyes when he recalls the wreck that changed his life forever. He lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. The driver who hit him didn’t see him because he was on his cell phone.
Now he has made it his mission to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“The texting and talking not hands-free on a cell phone is now one of my biggest pet peeves about drivers.”
He is not alone.
Doug Pike is the owner of Southern States insurance company in Fort Walton and has seen the growing trend of cell phone related accidents.
“I think it’s a problem everywhere. And quite honestly, I have to look in the mirror when I say that because I’ve been guilty of it myself.”
The Legislature has unsuccessfully proposed hands-free legislation each year since 2002.
Senator Don Gaetz thinks the issue needs to be re-visited and addressed.
“I think that we’ve got a problem with people that are distracted while they’re driving. And if this bill is an effective way of stopping that then I’ll certainly be in favor of the bill.”
The statistics back him up. Texting or the use of cell phones by drivers now account for 25% of all automobile wrecks in the United States. It’s responsible for 2,600 deaths and 636,000 crashes, with over half of those wrecks involving injuries each year. And it’s also the number one distraction among teenage drivers.
Dino Villani is the Public Safety director for Okaloosa County doesn’t think these stats should be taken lightly.
“I think all of us have really seen some horrendous accidents occur because folks were not paying attention to a skill as important as driving. So anything can distract you, especially to those who are inexperienced drivers. It really has the potential to cause a lot of harm and injury.”
Pike says education is now part of his policy procedure.
“We do try to educate them in the process and tell them, ‘hey, this is something that’s a huge statistic out there’.”
The proposed bill is expected to be a hot topic in the legislature during the 2010 session.


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