Texting while driving could become primary offense in Florida

- It's against the law in Florida, yet, drivers are still texting behind the wheel and getting away with it. That could soon change. State legislators are looking to beef up the laws in the next year.

Florida is one of just five states where texting and driving is not a primary offense. If that changes, the language of the law will stay the same: you can't drive while typing or looking at your phone. But, when police see you doing it, they'll be able to pull you over immediately.

Some hold it up high. Others hide it in their laps. Even after three years, Florida drivers aren't getting the message that texting and driving is illegal.

"I see them. They're surfing or something because I their fingers are going on the screen a lot," said driver Ash Kokeram. "

The problem is, Florida's law is weak. It's only a secondary offense, so Florida law enforcement can't pull you over for just opening up a Snapchat.

Lawmakers recently have filed new bills that would give law enforcement the power to pull you over simply for texting. House bills 47 and 69 would also double fines in school zones and make texting while driving a primary offense for drivers under 18.

"Unless you are afraid you are going to get caught or have to pay a fine, is when you really start realizing you should stop doing it," said driver Walter Urquia.

Getting fined is a lot better than dying. In 2015, there were a whopping 3,896 distracted driving crashes in Hillsborough County and 11 deaths. Statewide, there were more than 45,000 crashes and nearly 200 deaths.

"Up until about 10 or 15 years ago, we didn't really have to worry about distracted driving except maybe eating," said James Meier of Autosafety Driving School.

Meier has watched driving trends shift since he started instructing in the 70s. "We went through the same thing with seat belts. Now, no one would ever say, well, seat belts aren't important," Meier said.

He's hopeful, that, just like with seat beats, the laws will change and so will drivers' minds.

"It's up to the driver to be responsible enough to adhere to the laws and if it's a teen driver, it's up to the parents to make them responsible," Meier said.

Since texting and driving became a secondary offense in 2013, about 4,000 tickets have been written. It's all up to state lawmakers now to decide how tough the laws get. Similar bills have been suggested in the past, but never made it through.

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