January 22, 2018
Michael Braun, News-Press
A bill to allow police in Florida to pull over and ticket drivers who are texting while driving was labeled a good idea by drivers and others in Fort Myers.
The Senate Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee voted 8-2 to back the bill Tuesday after a requirement about recording race and ethnicity was added to the bill.
The amendment to collect the data would help determine if minorities are disproportionately ticketed for texting while driving.
The proposal, which has now cleared three Senate panels, must get approved by the Appropriations Committee before it can go to the full Senate.
The House version (HB 33), which does not have a similar race and ethnicity reporting requirement, is a priority of Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes.
Gov. Rick Scott last week lent some support to legislative efforts aimed at making texting while driving a “primary” traffic offense.
Scott didn’t endorse the proposal (HB 33 and SB 90) or say he would sign a bill, but he voiced opposition to texting while driving during comments after a Cabinet meeting.
“I haven’t seen the bill, but I clearly think we ought to be doing something like that,” Scott told reporters. “You see too many accidents, people are distracted. No one should be texting and driving.”
That was the overall feeling of drivers in the Fort Myers area.
Julie Carroll, 46, and her daughter Audrey, 17, thought the bill was a good idea.
“There are too many people doing that,” Julie Carroll said. She added that she does text while in the car but only when she is stopped.
Her daughter, not driving alone yet, was also in favor.
“I think a lot of people do it and it should be stopped,” she said. “It’s dangerous.”
Will Soto, 43, of Fort Myers, said he’s seen his own children doing that and would like to see making it a primary offense made a law.