Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lee County State Legislative Delegation urged to enact legislation to ban texting while driving

BikeWalkLee and Stay Alive...Just Drive! teamed up on 1/29 to urge Lee's state elected officials to enact legislation to ban texting while driving. Follow-up articles also posted.

At the Jan. 29th Lee County Legislative Delegation, BikeWalkLee teamed up with another of its coalition partners, Stay Alive...Just Drive! to urge  Lee County's state legislative delegation (2 state senators and 5 state representatives) to enact legislation this session to ban texting while driving.

The Jan. 30th News-Press article about the hearing with 42 speakers led with the distracted driving issue and BikeWalkLee's testimony:

A ban on distracted driving, or at least texting while driving, is what safety advocates requested at Tuesday’s Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting at Edison State College.

“Cracking down on texting while driving is a good place to start,” said Darla Letourneau of the BikeWalkLee coalition. “We’re hopeful this year, more than previous years, this Legislature will finally act on this important issue.”

Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, chairman of the Lee delegation, said he’s asked the bill sponsor to expand it to regulate distracted driving such as checking a navigational system.

Florida is the most dangerous place in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians, and Lee County is one of the 10 worst in the state, Letourneau said.

Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, said he is undecided because he’s hesitant to regulate personal responsibility. But he realizes there are safety issues.

Jay Anderson, Executive Director of SAJD, asked the members to adopt distracted driving legislation or revisions to current laws and to increase Graduated Drivers License (GDL) requirements for novice teen drivers.  Jay provided recent statistics about the increasing number of drivers engaged in risky behaviors while driving and using their cell phones...for example, drivers who regularly use their cell phones while driving were twice as likely to also be speeding while driving!  Jay's passion for this mission is based on his personal experience as a victim and relative of other victims, but it's Hannah Grant who is the driving force.  This young girl and her family's lives were forever changed by a distracted driver.
Hannah Grant

Darla's BWL testimony urged the members to enact legislation this session to address the growing problem of distracted driving, esp. texting while driving, and focused on vulnerable road users--pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists--who are most at risk from distracted drivers.  Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists and Lee County is one of the 10 worst areas in the state, and cracking down on texting while driving is a good place to start to begin to make our streets safer.  She urged the Legislature to join the other 39 states that have passed legislation to ban texting while driving.  Letourneau also highlighted FDOT's statewide initiative to reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities and the Lee MPO efforts underway to develop a comprehensive bike/ped safety action plan to make Lee County safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Below are the previous statements by BikeWalkLee on distracted driving:

Dec. 10, 2012 Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

Jan. 21, 2012, "Florida should ban distractions while driving," by Ken Gooderham (BWL) op ed in News-Press:

Feb. 26, 2011, Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

June 20, 2011, Letter to County Commissioners in support of Distracted Driving Awareness Month:

March 9, 2010, Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

Sep. 26, 2010, "Pedestrians, cyclists are vulnerable on the road," by Darla Letourneau and Dan Moser (BWL), guest opinion in News-Press:

On Feb. 1st, Florida Senator Sachs announced bill to ban texting while driving, with support of Florida's Sheriff's Association:  Senator seeks to ban texting while driving

Below is AAA study just released this week with lots of facts and stats:

New Research Study, Jan. 2013 from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers:  Select Findings from the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index.

News-Press 1/31/13 disappointing editorial: "Be careful with new legislation"

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