Sunday, December 9, 2012

BikeWalkLee letter to Lee State Legislative Delegation urging ban on texting while driving

For the third year in a row, BikeWalkLee has written to our Legislative Delegation urging the Florida Legislature to enact legislation banning texting while driving.  Will 2013 be the year that Florida joins the 39 states that have already banned the practice?

 Excerpts from BikeWalkLee's December 10, 2012 letter to  Members of Lee County Legislative Delegation:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, urges you to take action this legislative session to address the growing problem of distracted driving, especially texting while driving.  Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists are most at risk from distracted drivers.


This is the third year in a row that we have urged the Florida Legislature to take long-overdue action to pass legislation that bans texting while driving.  While our state elected officials ignore this serious public safety problem, Florida's traffic fatalities are up 4% for the first quarter of 2012 as compared to that period last year -- and in Lee County, fatal crashes more than doubled for the first quarter.  Equally disturbing, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) just released the 2011 Florida Traffic Crash Statistics Report, which showed that bicyclist fatalities increased statewide between 2010 and 2011 by almost 58% -- while  Lee County's bicyclist fatality rate was 27% higher than the Florida statewide rate in 2011!  Motorcyclist fatalities increased during this period by 18%.  According to DHSMV, drivers were distracted in 43% of Florida's fatal crashes. Florida was already one of the deadliest states in the country for vulnerable road users, and these new statistics show that poor performance is getting even worse.  ..................... 


There are several ways the legislature could address this issue, from a legislative ban on texting while driving to a revision in the existing Careless Driving statute.  The latter approach would address all distractions that impair the drivers’ ability to control their vehicle.  Regardless of the approach taken, it’s important that these provisions have teeth and are enforceable.


In a perfect world, it wouldn't take a law to make people do the smart thing.  But this world isn't perfect and, when one person's actions endanger others, lawmakers must support public safety and give law enforcement personnel the tools they need to keep roads safe and keep distracted drivers from putting themselves and others at risk.


We urge you to enact legislation this legislative session. We look forward to working with you to make our roadways safer for all users.


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