The Doc has been following recent doings in Tallahassee related to a bill filed by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who is once again trying to pass legislation that bans texting while operating a vehicle on Florida roads.
Opponents say such a law would infringe on the rights and privacy of individuals. But what about the rights of everyone who uses the road and wants to do so without having to dodge weaving vehicles whose drivers have their faces glued to their smartphones? If texting creates the level of distraction that equals impairment, as some experts claim, why shouldn't it be banned?
Such a ban might not affect the behavior of drivers who can't seem to put the phone down. The Doc thinks some folks are addicted to fiddling with their phones to the extent that they would be unfazed by risking a $30 fine for a first-time offense and $60 for a second one. But the fact that 35 other states have passed varying types of texting bans speaks volumes.
Senate Bill 416 has made it through three committees with little opposition, and a companion bill has been introduced by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota. Pilon's bill has gotten little attention, and Detert's three previous attempts at getting a ban passed have failed, but she remains undeterred. She says if the bill fails this year, she'll propose it again. And again after that. Stay tuned.
It's that time of year for special events. Here are a few that will require road closures.
• Preparations for this year's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 23-25) began last week with the closure of Bayshore Drive SE. Southbound Bayshore Drive will be accessible to local traffic only at First Avenue SE and eastbound Dalí Boulevard/Fifth Avenue S at First Street. St. Petersburg police officials said this week that this section of Bayshore will be closed to unauthorized traffic so work crews can prepare for track construction.
The next phase of preparation will begin this week: construction of the pit lane and grandstands in Albert Whitted Park.
• This weekend's Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival will close Drew Street from Osceola Avenue to Cleveland Street through Tuesday. Traffic will be detoured via Pierce Street.
• The Dunedin Mardi Gras parade and celebration will close streets in the downtown area from 7 a.m. Tuesday through about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Closures will affect Main Street from Broadway to Highland Avenue as well as Virginia Lane and Douglas Avenues.
• Clearwater's Blast Friday, this Friday, will close Cleveland Street from the waterfront to Fort Harrison Avenue and Garden Avenue at Cleveland Street from noon to 11:30 p.m.
Through March 2 expect potentially loud construction noise from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. along the southbound lanes of Belcher Road between East Bay Drive and 118th Avenue. Pinellas County is working on the water mains.
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