58ºF

Groups push Fla. lawmakers to stiffen distracted driving laws

Ban on all cellphone use behind wheel sought in bill

photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A wide variety of distracted driving laws will be debated in Tallahassee before session finishes, but a group of people personally affected by traffic tragedies is telling lawmakers why they need to seriously consider the proposals.

Other bills that have been filed include stiffening penalties for texting in a school zone and a ban on all cellphone use behind the wheel.

Boca Raton Democrat Irv Slosberg dedicated his time at the Capitol to road safety after a personal tragedy.

"This is like the worst phone call you just never want to get that call, that your kid is dead. But that's what happened to me," said Slosberg.

The representative's 14-year-old daughter, Dori, was killed along with four others in a high-speed car accident.

The Dori Saves Lives foundation now helps to campaign for road safety laws. Dozens of teenagers took to the Capitol with the group to tell lawmakers stiffer distracted driving penalties are needed this year.

"It's very sad to see young people die early for not following the rules, and I just hope that we will follow the rules and we will make a move with driving safety," said Gainesville High School student Caleb Ross.

RELATED: Tougher texting-while-driving penalties proposed

Slosberg is pushing bills that would not only stiffen penalties on texting while driving, but other forms of distracted driving as well.

A primary texting-while-driving ban hits home for Trish Viccaro. Her son, Garrett, and a friend were both killed while fishing on the side of a road in Melbourne. A driver was texting and hit both men.

"How many more victims is it going to take before you realize how important no texting and driving must become a primary law?" asked Viccaro.

In 2012, the Legislature passed a bill making texting while driving a secondary offense. There's a push this session to move it up to a primary offense, which would allow law enforcement to pull someone over if they spot them texting.