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Father’s Anti Texting Fight Continues

June 23rd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The families of people who have died at the hands of texting or otherwise distracted drivers are unhappy state lawmakers did noting this year to prevent deaths. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, one distraught father is using his hurt and anger to keep pushing for change.

Anthony Branca was 19 when he died just before thanksgiving in 2014.

 

“He slowed down to take a left turn on his motorcycle and the guy behind him didn’t because he was distracted by something” says Anthony’s father Demetrius.

Dad Demetrius has turned his anger and hurt into action. He’s been a frequent advocate for tougher texting laws at the state Capitol.

“46 other states have enacted primary laws against distracted driving” he told a rally in April.

But legislation that would have allowed obviously distracted drivers to be ticketed never got a hearing in the House.

“There’s a lot of people ho are gonna die between now and next legislative session that we maybe could have rescued” says Demetrius.

The Department of Highway Safety says there were more than 50 thousand accidents caused by distracted driving in 2016 alone.

That’s one hundred thirty-six accidents a day; or almost six an hour. every day and a half, somebody dies.

And the prognosis for changing the law in 2018 isn’t much better says the Senate sponsor Rene Garcia (R-Miami).

“It’s going to be hard to get that passed through the House of Representatives” concedes Garcia.

The problem is the man next in line to be Speaker. Rep. Jose Oliva, readily agrees that there is a problem,  but he worries about infringing on  civil liberties. Demetrius agrees with Oliva on that point.

I”don’t want the police to be able to pull me over and look in my phone. But they don’t need to look in my phone to see what I was doing to know that I was driving distracted” Demetrius told us.

The tenacious father, relentless in telling his son’s story, says Anthony would be doing the same for him if the death had been his instead.

In addition to continuing to lobby for tougher penalties for texting, Demetrius Branca says he’s also pushing the idea of requiring hands free devices if someone needs to talk while driving.

 

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