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Lawmakers push to crack down on texting while driving

Simulator at Capitol displays fatal consequences of texting while driving

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Many know the dangers of texting behind the wheel, but in Florida, there’s nothing stopping drivers from doing it if they're following every other traffic law. A new push to crack down on the crime has some Republicans taking the wheel on the issue

A bill has been filed in both the House and Senate, but it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. Only five states, including Florida, list texting while driving as a secondary offense.

A texting while driving simulator was on full display in Florida’s capitol Tuesday, trying to drive home the point about the potential fatal consequences of messaging or emailing behind the wheel

Lawmakers renewed a push to make texting while driving a primary offense in the state. With it now only being a secondary offense, a cop can watch drivers text behind the wheel, but can’t pull them over.

Patricia Viccaro lost her son when he was hit by a driver who was texting behind the wheel. She’s pleading for stiffer penalties.

“My son’s life is worth more than a $30 fine," Viccaro said. "Having this law as a secondary offense is not supporting our law enforcement to do their job. They can see someone on their phones without having any legal right to stop them.”

Making texting while driving a primary offense has been led by Democrats in the past, but Republicans have the bill in both the House and Senate.

Rep. Keith Perry said he almost didn’t take the bill.

“We all do it, and I text and drive. I do it rarely, but I find myself doing that," Perry said. "It was a debate for me whether or not I wanted to take the bill on."

But Perry said he is hopeful it can pass with Republican backing.

“It’s so important and if I get a ticket, then I get a ticket. I need one and I deserve one,” Perry said.

Only 1,800 citations were given out last year in Florida for texting while driving as a secondary offense.