Texting and driving could soon be illegal in Florida

Local politicians pushing for more support for bills banning habit

(Ferre Dollar/CNN)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The long battle to make it illegal for Florida drivers to text while driving may soon be over.

Several bills are moving through the state House in Tallahassee aimed at stopping texting drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Federal highway statistics show 8,000 accidents a day are caused by distracted drivers nationwide, while more than 25,000 were reported in Florida last year alone.

State lawmakers say they see increasing support for such a bill.

State lawmakers looking to get Florida to join the 39 states that prohibit texting while driving said they have gained the upper hand.

State Senators Nancy Detert, R-Venice, and Thad Altman, R-Brevard County,  have filed separate legislation that would ban drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

Textface.com takes hidden cameras across the nation's highways to catch drivers texting behind the wheel. They say texting drivers exhibit the same behavior as a drunk driver or someone driving with their eyes closed.

Both legislators are confident they will have support on both sides of the aisle to get a texting while driving ban passed in the 2013 session in Tallahassee.

"If you poll the generic public, even those who may text and drive from a particular time, they'll tell you this should be outlawed," Sen. Thad Altman said.

"Forty percent of people ride with people who text and drive, and they don't feel like it's a problem," Detert said.

Detert's proposal, Senate Bill 52, would make texting while driving a "secondary offense," what the seat belt law used to be before being upgraded to a primary offense.

She said she has been trying to pass a "no texting" bill for five years.