Tallahassee, Fla. — The FL DNT TXT N DRV COALITION, consisting of numerous law enforcement organizations, local governments, and Florida-based businesses and individuals, today called on Florida lawmakers to pass a hands-free law during the 2019 Legislative Session.
In 2013, Florida took the first step in banning texting while driving, where motorists can only be cited for texting while driving if they are pulled over for other reasons. Senate Bill 76, by Senator Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), also known as Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving, would go a step further, by implementing a hands-free law in the state. SB 76 unanimously passed the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, its first committee of reference.
Last year, Georgia passed similar legislation and we’re already seeing positive results from this type of law. An insurance expert told state lawmakers last week that Georgia traffic fatalities, injuries and collision claims have fallen, thanks in part to the state’s new distracted driving law. Traffic fatalities fell 3.4 percent in 2018, and hopefully if this legislation passes we can do the same in Florida.
StopDistractions.org, a network of families who have been tragically impacted by distracted driving, urged the legislature to enact this long-overdue, life-saving primary enforcement legislation. “Distracted driving continues to pose a major threat to the State of Florida,” said Jennifer Smith, executive director of StopDistrations.Org. “People are dying every day because of this epidemic. We have paid the ultimate price of losing the ones we love. On behalf of the families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one because of distracted driving crash, we must encourage Florida lawmakers to pass a law that singles out this unacceptable behavior.”
American Property Casualty Insurance Association is a proud supporter of the FL DNT TXT N DRV COALITION and supports legislation that helps improve safety and saves lives. Logan McFaddin, regional manager of the APCIA added: “The distracted driving epidemic must be addressed. We need to change driver behavior, and we believe toughening the distracted driving laws in Florida will save lives by encouraging people to think twice about picking up the phone while driving.”
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association is fully supportive of a hands-free law while driving as a crucial step toward making Florida’s roads safer,” said Police Chief David Perry, Florida State University Police Department and president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, not only for our drivers but also for our officers out on the road, protecting our citizens."
SB 76 has also been referenced to the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Rules Committee.