Father calls Florida's new texting and driving bill weak

Steve Augello lost daughter to distracted driver

SPRING HILL, Fla. - "It hurts to think about it," said Steve Augello.

The smashed-up Saturn in the photos belonged to the Spring Hill father.

"When I go talk at a school, I leave a copy of that picture, because it really makes an impression," he said.

On November 10, 2008, his 17-year-old daughter, Allie, was at the wheel.

"She called me at 7:05, told me, 'Dad, I'm on my way home,'" recounted Augello.

A distracted driver swerved into Allie's lane, killing the high school student, herself, and the woman's unborn baby instantly.

"She was fully in Allie's lane, and Allie tried to avoid the accident by going off on the shoulder.  But she clipped the front driver's side of the car," said Allie's dad.

There is another photo Augello shares -- the distracted driver's phone lodged in a shattered back window.  She had been texting minutes before the crash.

"She had to be with her head down, texting," he said.

In contrast, Allie's cell phone was returned to her father zipped-up in her purse.  Ever since, he's been lobbying Tallahassee lawmakers to pass a texting and driving bill.

It finally happened Tuesday in Miami when Governor Rick Scott signed the texting and driving bill into law.  But Augello's says the bill isn't tough enough.  

"The bill is very weak," he said.  "I'm happy there's a bill," he said. "I'm not happy it's a secondary offense.  I'm really not happy that it's a $30 fine. That's not a deterrent."

The texting and driving law only gives law enforcement the power to tack on a fine for texting when a driver breaks another law.  

A $30 fine Augello is sure wouldn't have saved Allie's life.

"My daughter would still be dead, because there wouldn't have been a cop there. The girl would have still been texting and she would've still killed my daughter. If the law was stronger and a primary offense, the chances are it would be more a deterrent," he said.

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