Why aren’t police doing more about texting while driving?

By Mario Tacher on Dec 03 in Legal News.

The short answer is: Police can’t do any more than they are already, and maybe drivers are using their cell phones while driving because they can get away with it.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 47 states, plus Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all ban texting while driving. Of those 47 states, in 43 of them, texting while driving is a primary offense — meaning police can pull drivers over for texting.

Florida is one of the other four.

In Florida, texting while driving is a secondary offense. That means police can ticket you for it, but only after they’ve pulled you over for something else.

Changing the law to make texting while driving a primary offense would take an act of the Florida Legislature. Lawmakers regularly file bills to do so and, just as regularly, they are defeated. In 2018, the bill came the closest yet to passage. A version passed the House 112-2, but the Senate version died in the Senate Appropriations Committee, its last committee stop before reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

Opposition to strengthening Florida’s texting while driving laws makes for some odd bedfellows in the legislature. Conservative Republicans worry about government overreach, while black Democrats, who are among some of the most liberal members in the body, worry that such a law gives police another reason to pull over black drivers unnecessarily.

Bills are just now starting to be filed for the 2019 session, which begins in March. Bills have already been filed in both the House and Senate to make texting while driving a primary offense.

Statistics suggest that a change in the law is probably needed. A Sun Sentinel investigation found that incidences of the types of crashes associated with texting while driving have been skyrocketing in the past several years.