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Carrollwood 5th graders tackle texting while driving

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The 5th graders at Carrollwood Day School aren't old enough to drive, but that didn't stop them from taking on the tough issue of texting while driving. The students in Mrs. Monty's class picked this as the topic for a big class project.

"Some people think it's fine. Like, oh, I can take out my phone. I'll be fine," said 5th grader, Mason Greif. "But texting while driving is equivalent to drinking four cans of beer and then getting behind the wheel."

The students contacted state representative Doug Holder to help with their project several months ago. Holder, a Sarasota republican, helped get a ban on texting while driving passed through the Florida House last week. It's taken the Florida legislature five years to pass a ban. The current bill makes texting while driving a secondary offense. Drivers would have to be pulled over for another violation first. The ticket would be a $30 fine. That bill is waiting for Governor Rick Scott's signature.

Holder visited the students at Carrollwood Day School to share the good news.

"They were very excited about it," Holder said. "To know that they had something to do with it and participated in the legislative process."

The students made a public service announcement to discourage texting when drivers are behind the wheel. And even though these students aren't old enough to drive, the message has hit home.

"If you really need to be texting, if it's an emergency, you can pull over and text that person, or call that person," said 5th grader Julia Gutgesell.

The kids are even taking the message to their parents, encouraging them to drive safe, too.

"Now that I have this topic, they're trying not to," Greif said. "They're trying their best to stop."

If Governor Scott signs the bill, it will take effect on October 1st.

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