Texting and Driving in Florida – it is not (yet) illegal

I don’t think any driver who spends time on the road in Florida could argue that Driving While Texting isn’t dangerous. As reported in USA today, last Friday, 31 states, plus D.C., have given law enforcement officers the authority to issue tickets for this unsafe behavior. Florida has not yet joined these states to make it a traffic offense to text on the cell phone while driving a car. However, this is a growing trend, with more states enacting legislation ever year.   This trend will likely continue as news stories continue to surface that texting on cell phones has lead to motor vehicle accidents.

In Florida, it is legal to use a cell phone while driving and police officers are not authorized to stop a driver for using a cell phone while driving as the primary offense.   Will Florida join the ranks of states that have decided to give the police more tools to combat unsafe driving practices involving cell phones and smart phones?  There are currently four “distracted driving” bills that have been filed for the 2012 legislative session.  However, this is not the first year that the Florida legislature has refused to pass a new law that restricts cell phone use.  Last year, the Florida legislature rejected 18 different proposed bills that related to driving and cell phone use.  With Republican sentiments on the rise in our state, an anti-regulation mind set may prevent any new laws to make our roads safer.  Just this year, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have required the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to provide education on the dangers of electronic distracted driving.  Such an effort has already been undertaken by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Apparently,  even educating the drivers of our state regarding the dangers of cell phone use while driving their cars was just too much government for our Governor’s liking.

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