TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers have passed a statewide ban on texting while driving.
The Senate passed a bill (SB 52) on Thursday by 39-1. Republican Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart was the only no vote.
The House approved it earlier this week but added a provision allowing police to use drivers' mobile phone records against them only when texting causes a crash resulting in death or personal injury. That change required it to come back to the Senate.
Bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Detert said she decided "not to let the perfect get in the way of the possible" and agreed to the late amendment.
Many Sarasota motorists we spoke to say they are pleased with the Senate's decision.
"It should be illegal. People should concentrate on driving. There are enough crazy drivers out there as it is. We all need to pay attention," said Will Oler.
"I think it should be banned. I am a physician. I have taken care of children who have been in accidents when they are texting and driving," said Dr. Yusif Addae.
"Nobody needs to text and drive. You only have one chance. It's not worth taking a chance," said John Childers.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino commends the decision by lawmakers. When she worked as Chief of Police in Ocean City, Maryland, she enforced that state's ban on texting behind the wheel.
"Law enforcement supports a law that bans texting while driving, even if it is a secondary offense," said DiPino. It is dangerous. It is distracted driving. Any time an individual is not paying attention to the road, the potential increased for them to have a serious collision and crash. It could endanger their life and the life of someone else."
The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott's desk. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have texting-while-driving bans for all drivers.