As I blogged a few weeks ago, it seemed this year that the Florida legislature was finally going to pass a law banning texting while driving. Although the bill had the support of law enforcement and easily passed through committees in both the House and Senate, the bill now appears to have been killed by Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R.-Fort Lauderdale, who serves as the House Finance and Tax Council chairwoman. When asked about the bill Bogdanoff said, “It’s not stalled…It’s dead”. Apparently her position on the bill is that lawmakers should not target individual behaviors but should pass a law broad enough to cover all distractions such as applying make-up or looking at a gps device. Unfortunately, this view ignores the overwhelming data that texting while driving can lead to an increased risk of automobile accidents and is even more dangerous than DUI. More importantly, because it remains legal, teenagers and younger drivers will have no incentive to stop texting while driving which many do now without a second thought. Just like in the years before we had mandatory seatbelt laws, or laws preventing smoking in restaurants, there is no legal motivation to change the behavior that we all agree is dangerous. Before mandatory seatbelt laws were passed, everyone knew that wearing a seatbelt was safer than not wearing one, but it wasn’t until it became law that seatbelt use became the norm. So the question must be asked, how many deaths must occur from “texting while driving” automobile accidents before the legislature decides to do something about it? For the complete story, see the article in the St. Pete Times.