WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (May 20, 2019) –
On Friday, May 17, 2019 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 107 into law. The bill, which was supported and championed by Vision Zero West Palm Beach, makes texting while driving a primary offense and creates a hands-free area within school zones and construction zones where workers are present. The new law, which received high approval from many organizations, is scheduled to take effect July 1, but citations will not be given until January 2020. A first offense is punishable by a $30 fine, and a second offense is punishable by a $60 fine.
“Public safety is priority #1 for my administration,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James. “The new law will go a long way toward making roads in West Palm Beach and throughout our state even safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, which is in line with our Vision Zero goal of reducing and eliminating preventable deaths and injuries on our road. We are proud to have supported this legislation, because the loss of even one life as a result of texting and driving is one life too many.”
The texting ban does not apply to a driver using a navigation device or system or to a driver whose vehicle is stationary. Florida is joining 43 other states that allow motorists to be pulled over for texting.
“We all know we shouldn’t be texting while driving,” said Tara Applebaum, Vision Zero West Palm Beach Coordinator. “This bill further solidifies that notion. We look forward to working alongside our local enforcement agencies to educate the public on this new law, when it will take effect and why it is so critically important to keeping our community safe.”
Vision Zero West Palm Beach recently released data reflecting an almost 3 percent decline in crashes overall and a more than 30 percent decline in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in areas in which the City has already started improvements, when compared to the first quarter of 2018.
The Vision Zero initiative received a $40,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) earlier this year. The grant was awarded to the West Palm Beach Police Department for pedestrian and bicycle enforcement, with a goal to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, who tend to be the most vulnerable in traffic-related crashes. Through research, the Department identified the roads and intersections of the most concern and efforts have been targeted to those areas. The City of West Palm Beach was eligible to participate in the grant program because the city accounts for approximately 12 percent of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the county. Specific efforts to educate the public about the target areas ramped up in early March and the grant is earmarked to wrap in mid-May. The following areas were identified by City engineers as those of most concern, and were the focus of the FDOT grant:
- Broadway Avenue between 36 and 59 Streets;
- Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard between Dixie Highway and Village Boulevard;
- Okeechobee Boulevard between Dixie Highway and Indian Road.
A Vision Zero approach involves a wide variety of methodologies to reduce the troubling traffic fatalities and serious injuries produced on roads daily. The method has been adopted in 34 cities in the United States, with many more abroad. Led by the City of West Palm Beach, Vision Zero West Palm Beach is a collaborative effort between internal and external community stakeholders. The City of West Palm Beach acts as connector to resources and experts, advancing a shared goal to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on the streets of West Palm Beach. The City looks to achieve its goal through the “three Es” – engineering, whereby the City commits to design better streets; education, including public fairs and targeted outreach programs; and enforcement, which includes enforcement of traffic laws and review of policy changes.
For more information on Vision Zero West Palm Beach, visit www.wpb.org/visionzero
, call 561-822-2222, or email Tara Applebaum at firstname.lastname@example.org
. For all City of West Palm Beach news and updates, follow the City of West Palm Beach on Facebook @CityofWPB and on Twitter and Instagram @westpalmbch.