Legislation targets teen drivers with cellphones

01/07/08 Mitch E. Perry
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A recent survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance said that 73 percent of drives say they speak on a cell phone while they drive; 19 percent of those drivers said they also send text messages behind a wheel.

Meanwhile, a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report says that 80 percent of crashes are caused by inattentive drivers, with cell phones listed as the most common distraction.

Several states have some form of legislation regulating cell phone use in cars, but Florida does not.

Port Richey House Republican John Legg wants to change that. He’s introducing a bill in the next legislative session that would address one portion of the population and their phones.

With cell phone usage being a factor in accidents, New York state in 2001 banned using handheld cellphones for all drivers, regardless of age. Representative John Legg says he’d like to pass such a law in Florida, but, he says, it’s probably a non-starter.

Text messaging on cell phones has expanded in recent years. The Boston Globe reported last month that a Massachusetts man told police he was behind the wheel typing a text message on his cellphone when he lost control of his SUV, killing a a 13-year-old boy riding a bicycle.

Legg said he would like to add a provision to his bill preventing all drivers from texting while driving.

Sen. Carey Baker is sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.

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