Florida Touts Georgia's Hands-FreeLaw as Model for Their State
TAMPA, Florida— The still-grieving parents of a 9-year-old boy killed by a distracted driver are pushing Florida lawmakers to pass a bill similar to Georgia's new hands-free law with the hope that distracted drivers will not needlessly take any more lives. WUSF News reports that the bill is heading to the full legislative body in Florida for debate. The proposed law purports to ban touching a cell phonewhile driving and makes using a cell phone while driving a primary instead of a secondary offense.Proponents of the legislation believe passing the law will save lives.*
Jordan and Brooke Scherer are left to speculate about how different their lives would be if the law they are promoting was in place several years ago. Their 9-year-old son Logan died in a horrific crash in 2016 on Interstate 75 in Brooksville, Florida. The boy died when a driver texting on a cell phone while driving 90 miles per hour slammed into the rear of the Scherer's SUV.
Advocates of the new law say legislation like this works and use Georgia's new hands-free law as a model for how things should be. Proponents of the Florida legislation say that Georgia's crash fatality rate haddropped by at least 25% since July of 2018 when the law went into effect.
A similar bill appeared in the Florida state senate for consideration but did not become law because it lacked support in from state senators. Legislators are hopeful that another version of the law introduced this year will be strongly considered.
The proposed law would ban all use of cell phonesin a vehicle unless the operator is using a hands-freedevice, using a navigation system, or calling for help. A violation of the hands-free law would be a primary offense, meaning that a law enforcement officer can stop the offender immediately. The current state of Florida law does not allow for primary enforcement. Rather the police have to stop the driver for another infraction to cite the driver for distracted driving.
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