In an effort to educate the public on Florida’s new texting while driving ban that went into effect Oct. 1, Pinellas County Schools and the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office partnered to create a one-minute Public Service Announcement.
“Our driver education program already focuses on teaching our students about the dangers of distracted driving, but this collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office will help us further spread awareness about the intent of the law, which really is about saving lives,” said Michael A. Grego in a press release. Grego is superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. “Educating the public as a whole can help protect our students, whether they are behind the wheel, riding as a passenger, walking or bicycling.”
Officials with the two public agencies collaborated to create the PSA to help spread awareness about the new law. The new law makes texting or emailing while driving a secondary offense. This means that you must be pulled over for a primary offense such as not wearing your seat belt or speeding before you can be issued a citation for texting while driving. The first offense is a nonmoving violation with a fine of $116. The second or subsequent violation within five years is a moving violation with increased fines and points added to your driving record.
The PSA features a Pinellas County Schools student, who is pulled over by a Sheriff’s Deputy who witnessed the driver swerving across the road, as she was texting while driving. Because the PSA is educational, the deputy explains the law to the driver before giving her a verbal warning.
The students in the PSA are in the drama program at Osceola Fundamental High School. The student driver is played by senior Zena Griffin, and the student friend is junior Lauren Quinn. Senior Micaela Ensey, an executive intern for the Office of Strategic Communications Multimedia Department, helped edit the video. PCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. David DiSano, an 11-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, played the deputy in the PSA.