Knowing that I work closely with the Florida Legislature, Keri asked me to follow up on some info I provided on FB regarding anti-texting legislation. I’m happy to oblige and take the opportunity to add my personal Call To Action.
Over the past three years, several bills dealing with driving distractions have been filed in the Florida Legislature, but none have ever gained traction. This year, such bills may have a different outcome.
It’s early in the Florida legislative season, but Rep. Doug Holder (R-Sarasota) has already filed a bill (HB 41) that would prohibit drivers from reading, writing, typing or texting while driving. Expect similar bills to be filed over the next several months.
Rep. Holders’ bill might become a must-pass item to avoid losing federal highway dollars. In July, New York Sen. Charles Schumer filed a bill that would require states to prohibit texting while driving or risk losing 25 percent of the highway money the state gets. The bill would give states two years to enact a ban.
Holders’ bill in the Florida House and Schumer’s bill in the U.S. Senate were inspired by recent studies showing that drivers are highly likely to be involved or nearly involved in an accident if they are text messaging while driving. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation banning texting while driving, and others have banned it for drivers with learners’ permits. Six states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phones while driving.
I’m all for it. As some of you know, I’ve garaged my bike so I can train full time for the NY Marathon. As a result, I log a lot of miles running against traffic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to direct drivers back into their lane and away from the curb. Last week, I was running in the “bike lane” against traffic on Tuskawilla Rd, and had to jump up on the curb when a lady in an SUV came a bit too close for comfort. She was reading a booklet, must have forgotten that she was behind the wheel and drove right for the curb. I just raised my hands in the air as if to say, “WTF do you think you’re doing?”
Any bill that prohibits drivers from texting, reading, writing, typing or engaging in any distraction that takes their eyes off the road is a good thing for other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
The Florida Bicycle Association is working on its 2010 legislative agenda and has expressed interest in supporting anti-texting-while-driving measures. If you’re not already a member of the FBA, please consider joining. The FBA is the voice of Florida cyclists in Tallahassee. If the FBA doesn’t advocate for cyclists’ rights, who will? Contact info: http://www.floridabicycle.org.