By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor
(Tuesday, July 30, 2019) – We discuss pedestrian safety frequently here in Sunny Isles Beach warning about the perils of distracted driving. This is because the issue is at the forefront of our Commission and City goals. Through the implementation of the Transportation Master Plan in 2016 and additional City actions, we have made significant long-term strides in keeping our pedestrians and drivers safe and improving quality of life through increased law enforcement and the approval of new pedestrian bridges.
As some of you may know or have seen, I am often driving around the City on my scooter. I cannot count the number of times I have witnessed distracted drivers swerving into my lane or someone else’s because they are looking at their phones. Texting while driving is an epidemic; however, a new bill was signed into law last month, which adds an opportunity for our police department to mitigate this issue and improve safety on the streets.
House Bill No. 107 prohibits those operating a motor vehicle from engaging in any nonvoice interpersonal communication, such as texting, emailing or instant messaging. Simply put, law enforcement officers are now allowed to stop vehicles solely for texting while driving. The bill also bans the handheld use of a wireless device while operating a vehicle in school crossings, school zones, and work zones.
Beginning October 1, law enforcement officers may stop vehicles to issue verbal or written warnings to those in violation, and beginning January 1, 2020, officers may begin to issue citations.
The new legislation is designed to improve roadway safety for all drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users. In a city and region as large and crowded as ours, this law will help to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and deaths due to distracted driving. Everyone deserves to feel safe on our roads and know you will arrive unharmed to your destination whether you are driving to work, riding your bike to the park, or walking home from a day at the beach. I encourage you to learn more about how our Transportation Master Plan is enhancing the City’s transit framework and read more about House Bill No. 107 at the Florida House of Representatives’ website, myfloridahouse.gov.