In Maryland, Jake’s Law approved

Distracted driving victim Jake Owen of Maryland

Deadly distractions won't be tolerated in Maryland. The state's governor signed "Jake's Law" on April 14, bringing closure of a kind to the family of a 5-year-old who died in a 2011 distracted driving crash. The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, means distracted drivers who kill or seriously injure others through their negligence are faced with a year's incarceration and a $5,000 fine. In addition, 12 points will be assessed vs. the driver's license. The driver who slammed into the family car and killed Jake Owen was fined $1,000, convicted of a pair of traffic offenses. He was using … [Read more...]

Miss. texting law ambushed, killed

mississippi state flag

A last-minute legislative maneuver derailed a texting & driving ban headed for the desk of Mississippi governor, who had planned to sign it. As a result, Mississippi will remain one of the few states without a complete ban on text messaging while behind the wheel. Both houses of the Legislature approved texting & driving measures. A conference committee resolved differences over the amount of fines to be paid by offenders, and the House and Senate approved the legislation April 1. It was headed to the governor, who said he looked forward to signing the distracted driving legislation "in … [Read more...]

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

National Safety Council poster

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, entering its fourth year. As with past years, it's an event without an official sponsor, but law agencies are taking the opportunity to crack down on distracted drivers. Distracted driving sweeps and educational campaigns were announced in several major states, including California, Wisconsin and Tennessee. In California, for instance, four days -- April 3, 8, 17 and 22 -- have been earmarked for distracted driving sweeps. "The increased enforcement aims to persuade drivers to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and reduce the number … [Read more...]

Ontario plan: $1,000 plus points

Transportation minister Glen Murray of Ontario

The Ontario government followed through with plans to crack down on distracted drivers, proposing maximum fines of $1,000 and three points vs. offenders' licenses. Transportation Minister Glen Murray, left, introduced the "Keeping Ontario's Roads Safe Act" on March 17. The increased penalties for handheld cell phone use and texting had been sought by safety advocates and law enforcement: "Everyone's been saying you've got to put (distracted driving) in the same range as drinking and driving," the minister said. The distracted driving changes were anticipated, and followed action by the … [Read more...]

Iowa distracted driving bill dies

Flag of Iowa for texting law post

Iowa won't be seeing an upgrade of its texting & driving law as distracted driving legislation missed a key deadline in the House. The Senate signed off on state Sen. Tod Bowman's SF 2289 on March 11, but the House didn't take action on the plan before the so-called "funnel deadline" of March 14. Bowman blamed House Speaker Kraig Paulsen for not pushing through the distracted driving measure. It is possible but highly unlikely the bill would be resurrected in 2014. Bowman's bill, as amended, targeted most forms of wireless communications by drivers, but not use of cell phones. Iowa … [Read more...]