Sometimes legislation seems so obvious itís difficult to comprehend why it wasnít passed years ago. Thatís the case with a bill working its way through the Florida Legislature concerning texting while driving. It needs to pass and even be strengthened.
SB 52 passed the state Senate last week and would make texting while driving a secondary offense, which means you couldnít be pulled over just for that, but if there was another violation, you could then be ticketed for both. The seat belt law used to be a secondary offense until a few years ago.
There are exceptions to the proposed law. If you are in law enforcement, firefighting or a citizen reporting an emergency, texting would be allowed. But if youíre driving and texting for any other reason, youíre breaking the law, and thatís as it should be. Few things are more distracting than texting on a mobile phone.
The House will take up the bill soon, and itís expected to pass. Rep. Cary Pigman supports the bill and would like to see it extended to all distracted driving. We agree.
First off, this shouldnít be a secondary offense. If a driver is seen driving and texting, law enforcement should be able to pull you over right there and issue a ticket. The idea is to prevent accidents, right?
Secondly, as Pigman told Highlands Today, all distracted driving should be discouraged and laws should allow drivers to be ticketed. Just talking on a cell phone while driving is distracting enough, as is eating a hamburger or doing your makeup or anything else that takes your eyes and mind off the road.
Most all of us have scared ourselves silly by foolishly doing something that distracted us while driving. Weíve caught ourselves having to brake hard because the car in front of us slowed down and we were looking elsewhere. People who constantly drive distracted are a real danger to others on the road, and themselves.
This is a good first step, although Florida is one of the last states to enact such a law. Letís hope this passes and soon it can be expanded to be a primary offense and for other actions to also be considered.