Texting while driving bill moves forward

In this 2011 file photo, texting while driving increased 50 percent last year and two out of 10 drivers say they've sent text messages or emails while behind the wheel despite a rush by states to ban the practice, said the National Traffic Safety Administration. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, File)

In this 2011 file photo, texting while driving increased 50 percent last year and two out of 10 drivers say they've sent text messages or emails while behind the wheel despite a rush by states to ban the practice, said the National Traffic Safety Administration. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, File)

The sponsor of a measure to ban texting while driving in many cases said she thinks the proposal has a good chance to pass this year in the House, where it has been held up in the past by leaders who didn't like the idea.

The bill was approved unanimously Wednesday in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. But the real road block for many highway safety bills that some say infringe on personal liberties has always been in the House.

Senate sponsor Nancy Detert said House Speaker Will Weatherford assured her it would be heard.

"We have a really good chance this year," said Detert, R-Venice. "The speaker last year (Dean Cannon) did not like the bill and would not let it be heard in one committee. This year's speaker, I think, will at least allow his chamber to speak."

In fact, the House version of Detert's legislation by Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, is on the agenda for the House Transportation and Highway Safety Committee on Thursday. The bills would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers would have to be pulled over for something else before they could get a secondary ticket for texting.

The bill has exceptions, such as allowing the use of "talk-to-text" technology, and allowing texting while a vehicle is stopped, such as at a red light.

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