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Texting and driving ban begins Tuesday

5:35 PM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida ban on texting while driving goes into effect Tuesday making it illegal to manually type or enter any characters on a wireless communication device while behind the wheel.

Devin Misil, a Jacksonville bicyclist, said he has daily close calls with distracted drivers.

"I get on the pavement because I'm scared of the road, you know? I wouldn't ride on the road," said Misil.

Misil said he's thrilled the Florida ban on texting while driving goes into effect October 1. The law makes it illegal for drivers to text, email, and instant message while they are operating a moving car.

"There's three things when you're texting your eyes are off the road, your mind's not driving and your hands are not on the wheel and those three in combination can cause a hazard," said Officer Melissa Bujeda, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Officers will be able to cite drivers for texting as a secondary offense. That means drivers must be pulled over for another violation first. Drivers can send emails and text messages while stopped at a red light, but if the car is in motion drivers will be cited for the secondary offense.

The law does not prohibit all wireless communication activity, just the act of actually typing or entering any characters including numbers, letters or symbols on the device.

"You still can use your navigation system, a lot of people use that with their cell phone as well as the radio, so there's other things that you are allowed to use on your cell phone that are going to have to be determined," said Bujeda.

According to AAA, drivers who receive or send texts take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds -- the equivalent of driving at 55 mph the length of an entire football field without looking. Billie Hayward says she's witnessed it while she's on the road and she fully supports the new ban.

"Even if someone answers their phone or starts texting if you're going down I-95 they alter their speed and sometimes they slow down a lot," said Hayward.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office the first citation for texting while driving is a fine of $30 and it doubles for the second offense. If you are cited more than twice in a five year limit you could be punished for a non-moving violation which can add points to your license and affect your insurance.

Florida is the 41st state to ban texting while driving.

First Coast News

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