Monday, February 21, 2011

Outlook dim for texting bills

Several members of the Florida Legislature have filed bills that again propose to forbid text-messaging by drivers, a behavior that every cyclist knows can put us at risk at any time. The version that's thought to have the best chance of passing is sponsored by Republican Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice.

Detert's bill (S158), however, would not make texting a "primary offense." That means that a cop who observed a driver texting would have to have see some other infraction to be justified in stopping the driver. Detert told the Fort Myers News-Press that she thought the bill had a better chance of passing this way.

The Senate did pass a texting bill last year, but the proposal hit a dead end in the House. That dead end was a policy council led by then-Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, who reasoned that existing Florida laws are adequate for the task. Bogdanoff is a senator now, and her eight committee assignments include Budget and the budget subcommittee on transportation. If S158 ever gets out of the Senate Transportation Committee, it's headed for Budget.

Detert's co-sponsors for S158 are Sens. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, Evelyn Lynn of Daytona Beach, and Gwen Margolis, of Miami. If you know one of the four, or vote in their district, I urge you to reach out through the links here, tell them you appreciate the effort, and ask that the bill be amended to make texting a primary offense so it will be enforceable.

You may read the News-Press article here.

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