47 states along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a text messaging ban in place for those behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a major cause of many accidents occurring today. Many of those distractions come from smartphones, and with their rise in popularity also came a rise in distracted-driving accidents. Because of this rise in the number of accidents, 16 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all enacted bans regarding handheld device usage while driving. My Sun Coast reports that Florida may be joining those 16 states and outlying territories.
A bill that was unanimously approved by a Florida state Senate committee on Wednesday could outlaw not just holding a cell phone while driving but could outlaw other distracting activities.
The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee approved the measure after hearing heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children had been killed in an accident caused by drivers who were distracted.
Currently, Florida prohibits texting while driving. However, police may only issue a ticket if they pull the driver over for a reason other than distracted driving. This bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, which would mean that police would not need another reason to pull over a driver who is seen texting behind the wheel.
Due to concerns that the distracted driving law could be used as a way to profile based on race, the bill includes a provision that would require officers to record the race and ethnicity of drivers who are ticketed for the offense.