Tenn. targets distracted school bus drivers

Tennessee "now has the strongest law in the nation" guarding against distracted school bus drivers. Gov. Bill Haslem on April 28 signed into law an act that cracks down on school bus drivers who text and use cell phones on the job. The legislation came in response to a horrific 2014 crash -- blamed on a texting bus driver -- that left two children and an assistant teacher dead in East Knoxville. The new law permanently bars offenders from driving school buses in Tennessee, and makes them subject to at least 30 days in jail and a minimum $1,000 fine. The law bars use of a variety of … [Read more...]

Alaska rethinks texting & driving law

Alaska is reining in its texting & driving law to encourage police to actually enforce it. Following the lead of Anchorage, the state's largest city, the Legislature approved and sent to the governor a plan to make an electronic device offense a traffic violation instead of a class A misdemeanor, if no injury or death occurs. Alaska's distracted driving offenses currently range from class A misdemeanors (simple texting) to class A felonies (causing a death) with offenders subject to jury trials. Fines under the new scheme would top out at $500. A spokesman for state Sen. Kevin … [Read more...]

N.Y. considers cell phone ‘field tests’

New York legislation envisions roadside electronic scans for cell phones possessed by drivers involved in wrecks. "Field tests" under the proposed "Evan's Law" would seek to determine whether the cell phone was used at the time of the crash, but the scanning technology would not provide police with access to user content on the device. Israeli firm Cellebrite reportedly is developing the scanning technology, dubbed the "textalyzer." The distracted driving legislation, from Assembly member Felix Ortiz and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, calls for application of "implied consent" by all … [Read more...]

Wisconsin: Hang up in road-work zones

Wisconsin has outlawed use of handheld mobile phones in construction zones. The law comes in response to a trio of highway workers' deaths in 2015 and was requested by local county highway commissioners. The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, comes with fines ranging from $40 to $100. Wisconsin has a general texting & driving law, but does not prohibit use of cell phones by adult drivers. State Rep. Peter Barca tried to change that during the 2016 legislative session, but his handheld cell phone bill was ignored by the Republican-controlled Transportation Committee. "They're just not … [Read more...]

Indiana texting law takes a beating

A federal appeals court has cast a dubious eye on Indiana's texting & driving law. Ruling in the case of a suspected drug trafficker pulled over for texting, the court found that "the most plausible inference from seeing a driver fiddling with his cell phone is that he is not texting" -- citing a list of other activities possible on smartphones. In the decision dated Feb. 18, the court found: "No fact perceptible to a police officer glancing into a moving car and observing the driver using a cell phone would enable the officer to determine whether it was a permitted or a forbidden … [Read more...]