New texting law part of 20-year fight to keep daughter’s memory alive
Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation that makes texting while driving a primary offense Friday. It will also make school and construction zones hands-free.
It was the latest victory in the fight for safer roads in Florida. The push has in part been led by a father and daughter who lost one of their own in a crash more than 20 years ago.
The fatal car ride took the lives of five teens in 1996. Among the victims was a young Dori Slosberg.
Dori’s father, Irving Slosberg, was elected to the Florida House in 2000. His sole mission has been ensuring her death was not in vain.
“It's all about Dori living forever,” said Irving.
The effort started with strengthening the state’s seat belt laws. Irving sponsored legislation requiring seat belts for minors that became law in 2004.
That same year, the non-profit organization Dori Saves Lives was established.
Dedicated to making Florida’s roads safer, it was headed by Emily Slosberg, Dori’s twin sister, who was also in the car during the 1996 crash.
“It's personal. I lost my twin sister in a car crash and I was almost killed, and I don't want another family to go through what we went through,” said Representative Emily Slosberg.
In 2009 Dori Saves Lives helped pass the total ban on driving without a seatbelt.
The Slosbergs also championed the Dori Slosberg Driver Education Safety Act in 2011. It added $5 to the cost of traffic tickets, with the money funding high school drivers' education programs.
The Slosbergs then turned their focus to texting while driving.
"You get one thing under control and you've got a new problem and this problem is really worse than the seatbelt problem,” said Irving.
The first victory came in 2013 when Florida made texting while driving a secondary offense.
Six years later, police will now be able to pull drivers over for texting alone.
“This honors her memory and it just does not remain a tragedy, her death, because we're going to be saving lives with this legislation,” said Representative Emily Slosber, who co-sponsored the 2019 texting while driving legislation.
“The road safety issue has moved up the ladder. It's important now,” said Irving.
The Slosbergs say their work isn’t finished. Their next goal, make Florida a hands-free state.