Texting while driving likely to stay legal in Florida

(SUN SENTINAL)   High school junior Rocky Kaller can’t fathom why Florida lawmakers can’t see what’s obvious to him. “Drivers are not paying enough attention to the road,” said Kaller, 17, ofHollywood.

“It looks to me like the state Legislature is more concerned with a healthy bottom line for cell phone companies than it is with people dying on our roads,” said Kaller.

Several bills that would have restricted drivers who talk or text message on their cell phones appear to be headed toward a dead end in the Florida Legislature. The bills would have banned drivers from sending text messages and required them to use a hands-free device while talking on their cell phone.

None of the bills is expected to pass.

Last year, Kaller started the “Stop Texting and Telephoning in Cars” project (STATIC), and works with a team of fellow students at the University School at Nova Southeastern University in Davie to spread the word that anything that takes your eyes off the road while you’re behind the wheel is a safety risk.

“Last year I turned 16, and I got my license,” said Kaller,” and I noticed that a lot of people, myself included, were talking or texting while driving. Sometimes I came close to hitting other people, and other people have come close to hitting me.”

Kaller didn’t want to wait for a tragedy before he took up the cause.

“You don’t learn anything until it happens to you,” he said. “Everyone thinks they’re Superman. It’s not just teenagers.”

STATIC uses a driving simulator to show the effects of taking your eyes off the road. Hands-free technology offers the best solution.

“You don’t learn anything until it happens to you. Everyone thinks they’re Superman. It’s not just teenagers.

Five states — California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington — and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 10 states — Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and Washington — and D.C.


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