The No Texting Zone - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

The No Texting Zone

By Christina Mora - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - In the midst of the morning shuffle, crossing guard Denise Williams sees a lot of parents texting or e-mailing behind the wheel. "All you gotta do is stand here and watch. You'll see 'em; it's just everyday," she said.

As Williams keeps her eyes glued to this busy intersection in front of Roosevelt Elementary in West Palm Beach, it's hard to ignore what parents are doing right in the middle of a school zone.

"I'm honest, I do do it, but I really try not to," said parent Rhonda Bennett.  

"I try not to do it then because, I know, there are a bunch of little kids around, and, well in the morning time, I really don't get text messages," added another parent, Taya Hale.

As reluctant as they may be to admit it, we found plenty of parents doing more than just driving as they dropped off their kids. We caught them talking on the phone, texting and even to primping for work.

Right now, Florida is one of very few states that has zero laws on the books when it comes to distracted driving, even in a school zone. So while it may look like preoccupied, parents are putting kids in danger. The only way they can get pulled over, is if they're breaking an actual traffic law.

"With school zones, it would be more dangerous because you've got so many issues, kids being crossed, pedestrians" said Donna Bryan with the Safety Council of Palm Beach County.

Bryan points out if you do break a traffic law in a school zone, the fines and tickets increase significantly.

Now, some law enforcement agencies have a special spot on the crash report dedicated to distracted driving which also ups the anty.

Bryan says your best bet is to turn off the phone or put it away. "I know it's difficult to resist, and particularly when we're stuck in traffic, people want to feel like they're getting more done."

In Port St. Lucie, the latest crash study attributed one-third of the area's crashes to following too closely.

Officers, like Gerry Harrington, with the Port St. Lucie Police Department say that's most likely because of distracted driving. "I wanna make sure they're driving, paying attention, not trying to make their coffee, eat a bagel and everything else."

Looking ahead, Florida's 2011 legislative session already has at least three potential bills that would curb distracted driving.

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