Tallahassee, Florida -- A bill that would ban texting and driving in Florida passed another key comittee Thursday in the state senate.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Nancy Detert of Venice, passed the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committe by a vote of 12-to-one.
"We're actually having a very good year on the Senate side for this bill," said Sen. Detert. "You're not going to be pulled over just for texting. You have to be either speeding or do something else before they can add this penalty on it."
The penalty would be a $30 fine--but no points against your license. Deterts bill unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee last year.
A companion bill in the House hasn't fared as well in the House of Representatives.
"I don't think they really understand the bill--that it's texting only," said Sen. Detert. "It's not the whole cell phone banned and it's a secondary offense."
"There is a debate about it," said Rep. Ray Pilon, a Republican from Sarasota who has sponsored the House version of the texting ban. "Some people are for it some are not. Most of my emails and most of my correspondence, most people are in favor of it. Triple-A is trying to push the issue because they understand the danger out it."
And Triple-A seems to have the research to back it up. In its latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, Triple-A found nearly nearly four out of five drivers (79%) consider texting and driving a "very serious threat" to their personal safety. Nearly all (94%) consider it unacceptable. And almost nine out of ten (87%) support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving.
Unfortunately, not all of those drivers practice what they preach.
"About a third of them admit to engaging in this type of behavior," said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager for AAA. "So there's this 'Do as I say not as I do' attitude which is one of the major obstacles to overcome when we're trying to improve traffic safety on the roadways."
Passing a texting ban is one of AAA's top legislative priorities for the 2012 session.