HOMESTEAD (CBS4) - "The state of Florida… we are sending a message out. We are starting to get tough on texting and driving."
That is State Representative Irv Slosberg's declaration to CBS4's Vanessa Borge about a bill he is proposing that would lock up drivers who text.
"If you kill someone and you were texting and driving, we are going to put you in jail for 15 to 30 years, vehicular homicide," Slosberg said.
Florida is one of only six states with no ban on texting and driving.
"Texting and driving could be worse than DUI," said Slosberg, a Democrat from Boca Raton. "Drunken drivers know, I'm drunk. Drivers who text, they don't know. They think they're fine. That's the problem is that they're not fine at all."
So how not fine are they? To prove how distracting texting and driving can be…CBS4 headed to Homestead Miami Speedway to test texting and driving on a closed course.
We sent each volunteer driver text messages. They had to open the text, read it, and respond.
At the same time they followed the blue pace car. They were instructed to stay directly behind it and do exactly as the pace car does.
One driver glanced up and down repeatedly. He had one hand on the wheel the entire course and at some points no eyes on the road.
And that's what we saw repeatedly from all of the drivers; their eyes were repeatedly off the road.
One woman even had both hands off the steering wheel as she approached a stop sign!
CBS4 followed behind the cars to film their performance.
"She got really close to him," observed our producer as we followed behind the cars watching how well they followed the pace car.
CBS4 found each drivers reaction time was dangerously affected by texting.
44 states believe it is a problem and have taken legislative precautions to deter drivers from grabbing their cell phones while behind the wheel. Will Florida be the 45th? Representative Slosberg seems to think so.
"I feel very strongly that something is going to pass. The bills are being heard in the Senate right now. The bill is in the first committee," Slosberg told Borge.
Representative Slosberg is also proposing another bill that would make it illegal for minors to text or even talk on their cell phones while driving. Florida's legislative session began March 1st and ends in May.
Slosberg said he is confident some form of a ban on texting and driving will pass. We'll keep you updated.
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