Tampa, Florida -- 38 states now have laws banning texting and driving. Florida isn't one of them.
Buthundreds of people attending Tuesday's first-ever Florida Distracted Driving Summit at the Tampa Convention Center are hoping that will change soon.
The summit was sponsored by the insurance company USAA, the Florida Department of Transportation, theDistraction Advocate Network and Shriners Hospitals for Children. The event brought together federal, state and local officials, law enforcement, traffic safety experts, physicians and business hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
In his keynote address, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed disappointment that Florida has no law against distracted driving on the books, but stressed that each driver needs to take personal responsibility.
"Just put these in your glove compartment," said LaHood, holding up his cell phone. "Put them away, turn them off whenyou're driving. And don't be calling people when you know they're behind the wheel of a car. We need more personal responsibility."
"I don't think a lot of folks really appreciate or understand how much their ability to drive safely is compromised when they're engaged with that cell phone," said USAA spokesman Michael Merwarth. "Today is to raise awareness about the issue, put some of the facts on the table--the research, the science, the truth about how much debilitation occurs for the driver who's engaging with the cell phone--and contrast that also with some of the really powerful stories from individuals who have been impacted by drivers who were distracted by the result of them using their cell phone."