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

UPDATE: Owner accused of elderly abuse at assisted living home near West Palm
UPDATE: Owner accused of elderly abuse at assisted living home near West Palm

The owner of an assisted living facility  in a suburban West Palm Beach neighborhood was arrested and accused of mistreating the elderly residents, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.  A judge ordered Bhoodram Parsaram, 52, be held at the county jail on a $2,000 bond Saturday morning on charges of abuse of an elderly...
Trump in Palm Beach: President to pardon boxer? Melania at Barbara Bush funeral
Trump in Palm Beach: President to pardon boxer? Melania at Barbara Bush funeral

UPDATE 6 p.m.: Prodded by actor Sylvester Stallone, President Trump says he’s considering a posthumous pardon for boxing's first black heavyweight champion more than 100 years after he was convicted by all-white jury of accompanying a white woman across state lines. Trump tweeted this afternoon from Mar-a-Lago that “I am considering...
Prosecutors: Stuart men exploited teen runaway for sex, pornography
Prosecutors: Stuart men exploited teen runaway for sex, pornography

Last September, a report of a 16-year-old runaway led police to two Stuart men who had distributed explicit images and sex videos involving the teenager. On Friday, Richard William Lockley, 34, was sentenced by a to 15 years in prison by a Miami federal judge. He was ordered to register as a sex offender. A co-defendant — Joshua Lane Rogers,...
UPDATE: Woman critically injured in motorcycle crash on Turnpike near Gardens-Jupiter 
UPDATE: Woman critically injured in motorcycle crash on Turnpike near Gardens-Jupiter 

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have identified a man and woman injured in a motorcycle accident on the Turnpike lanes between Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens on Saturday morning.  Courtney Dzikowski, 26, of Spring Hill, Fla., was a passenger on a 2000 Yamaha motorcycle driven by 27-year-old Joshua Labbe, of Connecticut, when the crash occurred...
NEW: Fort Pierce man dies in drive-by shooting in Vero Beach-area neighborhood
NEW: Fort Pierce man dies in drive-by shooting in Vero Beach-area neighborhood

A man from Fort Pierce died in a drive by shooting near Vero Beach on Friday afternoon, according to Indian River County Sheriff’s Office deputies.  Christard Hicks, 19, suffered a gunshot wound and died about 40 minutes after he arrived to a local hospital, deputies said.  Witnesses told deputies that they saw a black Chrysler sedan...
More Stories