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News Story
Updated: 02/17/2013 07:59:25AM

Be pragmatic about texting bill prospects

and pass something that will deal with problem

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A funny thing happened to Sen. Nancy Detert last week on the road to a statewide texting ban. She ran into resistance from senators who thought she wasn’t going far enough.

For the past four years, the legislator has sponsored legislation that would make it illegal for anyone to type text messages while driving.

Without success.

Detert’s bill has passed overwhelmingly the Senate in the past, but has been virtually ignored by the House.

The hope is a new Legislature might finally move forward with a public-safety measure that has extraordinary public support.

After all, past polls have shown Floridians favor a driving-while-texting ban by more than a 4-1 margin.

Detert has been pragmatic about the issue, which makes sense, considering her past disappointments with the House.

The fact is, the bill is weak. It would make texting a secondary offense, which means police would need another reason to pull someone over in the first place.

A first-time offender would be fined $30. It would be a non-moving violation: It wouldn’t put points on a driver’s license.

Some senators want to see something tougher, though, which became clear during a Transportation Committee hearing last week.

One, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, has proposed a ban on all hands-on cellphone use, not just texting.

A primary offense would bring a $100 fine, also a non-moving violation.

We’d also like to see something stronger, but, for now, we’d be happy to get what we can.

Obviously, Detert would too“In the four years we have been doing this bill, we have found that it makes it more passable to make it a secondary offense,” she said.

Let’s get something on the books now, if we can.

If nothing else, it might scare some people into doing the right thing and ignoring the beep from a text alert while they’re driving.


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