US teen lobbies for ban on texting while driving

Indo Asian News Service

Miami, April 15 (IANS) A Miami-area high school student is spearheading a campaign to persuade lawmakers in the US state of Florida to impose a ban on texting while driving.

The most recent available statistics, from 2015, show that nearly 3,500 people across the United States died that year in road accidents blamed on what authorities and experts call distracted driving, EFE news reported on Friday.

Under current law, Florida law enforcement agents cannot stop and ticket a motorist simply for using a phone, though texting while driving can be cited as a secondary offence when a driver is pulled over for an infraction that qualifies as a primary offence.

Mark Merwitzer, 17, set out almost a year ago to change that.

He told EFE that the idea of pushing for new legislation came to him one day when, while riding as a passenger in a car, he noticed that virtually every driver he saw was texting.

The high school student, who doesn't have his driver's license yet, received assistance from state Senator Rene Garcia, a Republican who represents the Miami suburb of Hialeah, in putting forward a bill to make texting behind the wheel a primary offence.

This week, the members of the state Senate's transportation committee unanimously approved the bill.

Even so, the young man dubbed Florida's youngest lobbyist knows the bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law.