Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senate panel OKs ban on driver texting

The Florida Senate's communications committee approved a proposed ban on text-messaging by drivers today, gratifying countless motorists, bicyclists and other users of the streets.

The 7-2 vote moves SB448 closer to the point where the full Senate can embrace or evade this measure that has the support of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the AARP, the insurance industry and the National Safety Council. All are convinced that distracted driving is way more dangerous than drunken driving, which has been subject to stiff penalties for generations now. Cell phones, of course, weren't around when most of our drunk-driving laws were adopted. So traffic law may be catching up with technology.

The committee had been pressed hard by the Florida Bicycle Association and a petition from Green Mobility Network. The surprise, then, was not that the bill emerged from committee, but that two members from districts with a lot of bicycling voted against it. They were Sens. Joe Negron of Hobe Sound and Steve Oelrich of Gainesville. Were they, perhaps, making a point that stiffer penalties are needed? We'll let you know if we find out.

By the way, congratulations to the three Parkland teenagers who testified for the bill today. They started a campaign against driver texting called Talk to You Later.

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