The sunshine state is one step closer to making it illegal to text while driving. Florida is one of only five states without a law against it. Local State Senator Nancy Detert has worked for more than four years to get a law passed. This week one committee unanimously approved her bill. If all goes through it could be in affect as early as July.
Those like Tina Bell say it's too dangerous. "They should pass a law everywhere to make it illegal."
A number of studies now show texting and driving causes all sorts of problems behind the wheel. Even more than having a few too many. "It is more dangerous then even drinking and driving. You are not looking at what you are doing. People walk right in front of you and you do not even see what is happening. Before you know it you have killed somebody."
Tina isn't alone. Ann Ciccatelli agrees. "I think it is terrible. I think they should know better. They shouldn't even consider doing it."
Chuck Mack does too. "If you need to talk on the phone so bad then pull over."
Despite overwhelming public support for texting while driving bans Detert has had to champion a bill for four straight years."They need to quit discussing it and just pass the bill."
This week unanimous approval in the Senate Transportation Committee. It still must clear two more committees before reaching the Senate floor. Then pass the house and then the Governor. "Obviously there has been some resistance but I think this year everybody sees the light and it should pass."
First time offenders could see a fine of $60 plus court costs. "I think it is a good deterrent for sure yeah," says Saverio Bellissimo.
However, some are concerned enforcement wont come easy. It would be considered a secondary offense meaning you would have to do something else more illegal before being pulled over, like swerving. "Just because you have your phone in your hand does not mean you are texting. You could be receiving a phone call. You could be getting directions. Anyone could get out of it that way," says Jennifer Sizemore who also supports a ban.
Detert says swerving and texting often times go together and that after years of trying they have to start somewhere. "Seat belts started out as a secondary offense also. It gets us in the position we need to be in."
Every person like Tina we found said it should be illegal but they don't need a law not to do it. "It's just a bad idea. You have to pay attention to the road."
Friday lawmakers filed legislation to impose tougher penalties for those who cause fatal accidents while texting, including vehicular homicide.