Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday he will sign a bill to ban texting while driving, making Florida the 40th state to outlaw the practice for all drivers.
Scott will sign the bill (SB 52) next Tuesday at a high school in Miami.
“As a father and a grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me when my loved ones are on the road,” Scott said in a statement. “The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the deadliest days on the road for teenagers. … I cannot think of a better time to officially sign this bill into law.”
The effort to enact a ban took five legislative sessions before it passed this year. Conservatives in the House and Senate had opposed previous attempts, saying a ban smacked of government intrusion into people’s lives
Florida’s law makes texting while driving a secondary offense. That means law enforcement must first stop drivers for another offense, such as making an illegal turn or speeding.
A first violation brings a $30 fine plus court costs. Second or subsequent violations within five years will add three points to the driver’s license and a $60 fine.
The ban includes typing or reading a text while driving. It allows texting while stopped at a red light. It includes tablet computers but excludes using a “talk-to-text” feature.
The bill was supported by phone companies, law enforcement, trial lawyers, business groups, the AARP and AAA.
A preliminary state report shows 256,443 reported crashes in 2012. In 4,841, a driver had been texting or otherwise using what was called an “electronic communication device” while driving.
Also on Tuesday, Scott will travel to West Palm Beach to sign a bill (HB 7065) providing $880 million in state funding for long-term Everglades restoration.