Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sheriff Rambosk Pushes For Anti-Texting Legislation

With the Florida legislative session in full swing, Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk is following through on his promise to push for legislation that would make it illegal to text while driving in Florida.

Armed with the support of more than 1,000 people who signed the agency’s call to action for a ban on texting while driving and the often heartbreaking comments of people whose lives have been affected by text-related crashes, he is telling legislators that the community wants action.

This week Sheriff Rambosk wrote to members of the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee in advance of their discussion Wednesday of Senate Bill 52. He also provided them with the signatures and comments of support from the community. He plans to provide the same packet of information to the full Legislature as the session moves forward.

Senate Bill 52, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, would make texting while driving a secondary offense. This means text-messaging drivers must be caught swerving in and out of their lane, running a red light or some other offense before officers can tack on a texting violation.

Ultimately, Sheriff Rambosk believes the best solution is for Florida to join states like California, New Jersey, Nevada and New York, which have laws that ban any hand-held cell phone use while driving. However, a law such as the one Detert is proposing would be a solid step in the right direction, he said.

In late November, CCSO launched “Stop Texting & Driving,” a community-based, grass roots movement to address the growing demand for Florida to join the 39 states that have declared it illegal for drivers to text behind the wheel. The agency produced 30- and 60-second public service announcements on the topic, launched the call to action and asked the community to share their stories.

The agency also created a presentation about the dangers of texting while driving for Youth Relations Bureau deputies to deliver to students taking driver education instruction. In addition, CCSO’s Crime Prevention Unit provided citizens with red wristbands that carry the words, “I won’t text and drive” at community functions and homeowner association meetings.