The Florida House of Representatives has a bill in draft form that proposes to make not only texting but all use of a phone illegal for minor’s operating a motor vehicle. HB-5, Traffic Safety, proposes to create the “Minor Traffic Safety Act” which will forbid all minors who operate motor vehicles in Florida from using a cell phone (referred to as a “mobile telecommunications device”) for any purpose while the vehicle’s engine is on. The exceptions are only if the phone is being used to call a government office for purposes of an emergency. Another exception is if the car is completely stopped and completely outside the flow of normal traffic. This means no checking email, voice mail, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or playing any kind of game or using any app on the cell phone when stopped for a red light, stop sign, or even moving 1 mph on a country road.
This new law includes a prohibition on minors being able to use the cell phone to even make a voice only call. Minors are in fact being singled out here but there are a number of other laws that exist to protect minors. In this case, the law is designed not only to protect minors, but the public from distracted minors who are only in the early stages or learning how to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore there is a reasonable basis for the law and it should pass constitutional challenge for violating the equal protection clause.
In my practice I have seen car accidents occurring more frequently because of distracted drivers checking things on their phone. This is a form of negligence when operating a car because it can cause or contribute to causing a car accident. It is even more dangerous when operators of trucks and tractor trailers use cell phones while driving. This new law is one step in the right direction to make it illegal for our youngest drivers to use cell phones while driving, and it should likely pass the House of Representatives, Senate and be signed into law by the Governor. For a complete summary of the bill, click here: FL Minor Traffic Safety Act