"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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  • by beach guy Location: pcb on Nov 19, 2009 at 02:02 PM
    It seems like a no brainer to ban them while driving. . Look around at a red light next time your sitting there, 50% of the other people sitting there will be on the phone.
  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Nov 19, 2009 at 08:45 AM
    How about we take away the vehicles from those who get their licenses suspended or cancelled. That way, you won't have these horrible repeat offenders on the road. Then you can worry about the legal drivers all you want.
  • by Reese Location: Panama city on Nov 18, 2009 at 12:51 PM
    I must admit that teens now are being reckless in driving and texting and talking on the phone, but its not just the teens everywhere we see doing it, there are the adults you see doing it also and even cops every now and then. Just becuase they are older doesnt mean they know how to avoid accidents and lately ive been seeing adults having accidents in panama city everywhere i go an ambulance. sure teens are doing it also i know but they also see everyone else do it and say "hey, they can do it and they are fine, why not i".
  • by Brylee Location: K on Nov 18, 2009 at 11:59 AM
    I am 18 and yes i love texting but it can wait. Also it is not only teenagers that are texting and driving it is also the adults that think they are old enougth to multitask and they really cant. And as for the military goes my boyfriend is in the military and he joined when he was 18 and he was not very mature but now he is almost done with training and he is the most mature person i know. Just because one or two teens are immature doesnt mean they all are.
  • by Dale A. Wilhite Location: Wewa on Nov 18, 2009 at 08:52 AM
    One of the main reasons that so many teenagers are injured or killed in auto accidents is due to the fact that their really not "Mature" enough to drive yet. Just because a kid turns 15 or 16 years old, does not mean they have the maturity of a 15 or 16 year old. Some have the maturity of a 12 year old. That's why we need tests for teenagers to take that can determine how mature they really are. We have teenagers that join the military at the age of 18 years old who have the maturity of a 12 year old. Thus they do not do very well or their tossed out. Cell phones, alcohol, or drugs, is not the only killer of teens when it comes to auto accidents.
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