Boynton joins push to toughen texting while driving laws


After failing last legislative session to convince colleagues to strengthen driving while texting laws, State Rep. Emily Slosberg is trying again and has south Palm Beach County’s leaders on her side.

The Boynton Beach City Commission this week joined other municipalities including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Miami and Pembroke Pines in supporting Slosberg’s efforts to pass a law that would give police the authority to pull over a driver seen texting.

READ: Distracted walking ‘a death wish’ for pedestrians focused on phones

Florida is one of only four states in the country where texting while driving is a secondary offense, not a primary. That means a law enforcement officer can issue a ticket only if a driver has been pulled over for committing another traffic violation.

“This has become a culture on our roadways,” Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, said Tuesday. “Injuries are increasing, fatalities are increasing, but our laws are not.”

READ: ‘Angry as hell’: Distracted crashes up, father wants action on phones

Slosberg has sent letters to all commissioners in the state asking for support. That local support is what’s needed to convince state legislators, she said.

“I think going to Tallahassee with the amount of support statewide will be persuasive,” she said. “It’s important to allow our local elected officials and local residents of every part of the state weigh in on this issue.”

Boynton’s commission unanimously backed Slosberg at Tuesday’s commission meeting after initially discussing it this month.

READ: Can a law make Florida streets safe from ‘smart phone zombies’?

“Everybody knows it’s bad,” Vice Mayor Justin Katz said at the Aug. 1 commission meeting. “Everybody does it to some degree. But hopefully most people, like myself, if I’m in the car and I see myself touching the phone, most of the time and I hope all the time in the future, I want to condition myself to not touch the phone because it’s not worth it.”

Boynton’s fire chief and police chief also support Slosberg’s efforts.

“I am an ardent supporter of legislation making texting and driving a primary offense,” Police Chief Jeffrey Katz said. “I always have been. Texting and driving is a deadly combination and these actions unquestionably threaten public safety.”

READ: Distracted walking ‘a death wish’ for pedestrians focused on phones

Texting is involved in 6 percent of U.S. accidents, and cellphone use including talking is a factor in 26 percent of crashes, the National Safety Council calculated in 2015.

Crashes in which a cell phone or other electronic communications device was cited increased 3 percent statewide to 3,866 and 20 percent to 302 in Palm Beach County, compared to 2015, The Palm Beach Post reported in July.

The first city to back Slosberg was Boca Raton, her hometown. Traffic safety has been a key concern for Slosberg and her father Irv Slosberg, who held the seat before her. In 1996 at age 14, Slosberg and her twin sister, Dori, were in a car crash on Palmetto Park Road. Dori was one of five teens killed in the crash. Seven of the nine in the car weren’t wearing seatbelts.

“It meant a lot that the city of Boca is on the team,” Slosberg said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Nouman Raja files ‘Stand Your Ground’ claim in Corey Jones shooting
Nouman Raja files ‘Stand Your Ground’ claim in Corey Jones shooting

Calling it “a classic case of self-defense,” lawyers for former Palm Beach Gardens Officer Nouman Raja are asking a judge to dismiss manslaughter and attempted murder charges against him for the October 2015 shooting death of 31-year-old stranded motorist Corey Jones. Raja’s lawyers in court documents filed Thursday are asking...
State senate revamps sex harassment rules

The Florida Senate released a revamped sexual harassment policy Thursday, after sex scandals rocked the chamber and led to the resignations of two prominent senators. Former Sen. Jack Latvala announced his resignation this past month following the release of an investigative report that recommended a criminal probe into allegations the Clearwater Republican...
Sportcaster, former NFL player Ahmad Rashad selling Gardens home
Sportcaster, former NFL player Ahmad Rashad selling Gardens home

Former Minnesota Viking and NBC sportscaster Ahmad Rashad has put his Palm Beach Gardens home on the market, realtor.com reports. Rashad is listing his 3-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom house in Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club for $740,000. The home has a two-car garage and a pool that’s surrounded by thick landscaping for privacy, but the...
NEW: 1 dead, five injured in crash near Palm Springs, road closed
NEW: 1 dead, five injured in crash near Palm Springs, road closed

One person is dead and five are in the hospital after a crash near Palm Springs Thursday evening, according to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Crews were called to a multiple-vehicle crash near Melaleuca Lane and Congress Avenue at 5 p.m. Several people were trapped inside a vehicle that was on fire, according to Capt. Albert Borroto, the spokesperson...
Mark your calendar for these 2018 meteor showers
Mark your calendar for these 2018 meteor showers

There are plenty of meteor showers to enjoy this year, reports Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Mark your calendars and keep checking in for the latest forecast. The Lyrid Meteor shower will peak over the weekend but the sky might not be ideal. RELATED: Download our free WHIO weather APP to stay informed  Lyrids: Active April...
More Stories