Florida lawmakers push for hands-free law to deter distracted driving

Florida lawmakers are taking aim at distracted driving.

Rep. Cyndi Stevenson told Action News Jax reporter Beth Rousseau that nationally, crashes involving distracted driving are decreasing, but the number is rising on Florida roads.

Stevenson’s husband was hit by a distracted driver while bicycling.

On Friday, she said it’s one of the reason’s she’s a co-sponsor for a hands-free law.

She explained Florida is one of five states where using a cellphone while driving isn’t a primary offense.

“Florida was just found the second-worst state for distracted driving,” said Stevenson.

The proposed law would make touching your phone while driving illegal.

Currently texting while driving is against the law, but it’s a secondary offense – meaning officers have to see another violation before they can pull you over.

Local drivers said the current law isn’t effective.

Erick Billings said, “A lot of times I don’t think people even realize they’re doing it. It’s habit.”

Florida Highway Safety says the 50,000 distracted driving crashes in 2017 left 3,000 people with serious injuries and caused 200 fatalities.

“Texting is a big problem. I see people look at phones more than crossroads and people crossing,” described Inbal Cohen Rasner.

Some are skeptical about whether the new bill would work, but said it’s another tool for law enforcement.

“I think it’s a step forward to minimize (danger) and increase the safety of the roads,” said Cohen Rasner.