MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Drivers are going to have to be more patient before firing off a text or check email while behind the wheel.
A new law that went into effect on Tuesday which makes it illegal to text while driving. The law is a secondary violation, but law enforcement believes that if you’re texting and driving, you’ll likely be committing other traffic violations that are primary laws.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said part of the focus of the law will be to protect young drivers.
“The safety of young people is paramount to us in law enforcement,” said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. “When we were in chemistry we learned very early in life that there were some chemicals that could not be mixed because they are combustible like driving and texting.”
If you’re ticketed a second time within five years, the penalty will be a moving violation and if you’re involved in an accident, law enforcement can pull your phone records and six points will be added to your driver’s license.
Sending a text, checking email or surfing the web is allowed if the vehicle is stopped – such as at a red light or a stop sign.
Many drivers CBS4 spoke with agreed that the law is a good idea.
“If you know you’re gonna get a ticket, it’s gonna make people think twice,” said Rene Arredondo. “‘Ah, I’ll just wait till I get to the parking lot’ (to send a text.)”
Others who admit texting and driving think the law is overdue.
“If I’m gonna get a ticket, I’m definitely gonna try my best not to do it,” said Chris Knight.
Some people, like state Senator Maria Sachs, said the law doesn’t go far enough.
“I would like to see it as primary offense,” said Sachs. “I think it’s really dangerous.’
Drivers doing 55 mph and who text take their eyes off the road for almost five seconds can cross the equivalent of a football field while not looking, according to the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which regulates the trucking industry.
There were 256,443 reported crashes in Florida in 2012. In 4,841 of those crashes, a driver had been texting or otherwise using an “electronic communication device” while driving, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
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