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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Cell phones have g2g while driving, two Florida legislators say.

New legislation might ban Florida residents younger than 18 years old from using cell phones while driving.

State Sen. Carey Baker - a Republican who represents Eustis and chairman of the Senate's transportation committee - and state Rep. John Legg, a Republican who represents Port Richey, have introduced complementary bills to make the ban a law.

"I think all of us would agree that we probably all should spend less time on the cell phone when we're driving," Baker said in a phone interview Monday. "It's good that we're starting the kids off on the right foot."

He said the motivation for the law is the danger of sending text messages while driving, which has become a growing trend among teenagers.

"It's by far the worst offense. You have to take both hands off the wheel and you definitely have to look down," Baker said. "If you're going to do that, you need to just pull over."

An article from the Orlando Sentinel stated that a study by the Allstate Foundation found 13 percent of teens have text-messaged while driving.

Baker said if approved by Gov. Charlie Crist, the ban would allow police to issue non-criminal traffic tickets to drivers younger than 18 caught using a cell phone, iPod, laptop or other handheld electronic devices while driving.

The ban would go into effect in July.

Officers could issue a citation only if the driver is pulled over for another reason, similar to Florida's seat belt law.

If found guilty, those breaking the law would receive one point on their driver's licenses. For drivers younger than 18, six points could warrant a license suspension. Baker said he thinks the ban "stands a great chance at passing" when the Legislature meets in March because it would be limited to minors.

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