Wash. state panel: Rewrite cell phone laws

Washington flag for text message ban post

The state of Washington was an early leader in distracted driving laws, but a transportation panel says it's fallen behind the times. Washington's Traffic Safety Commission seeks a complete and unambiguous ban on the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Washington state law "doesn't preclude you from looking at Facebook or the Internet as you're driving," said Darrin Grondel, director of the Traffic Safety Commission. The new legislation, expected to be introduced early in the 2015-16 session, would cover smartphone activities such as accessing social media sites and emailing. … [Read more...]

Ohio’s primary enforcement push

Texting & driving lawmaker State Rep. Damschroder

Ohio legislators are being asked to rush through a toughening of the state's texting law before their two-year session ends in under two months. State Rep. Rex Damschroder, author of the state's 2013 texting law, seeks to upgrade the ban to primary enforcement, meaning police can stop and cite all drivers for that offense alone. Currently, only teen drivers are subject to primary enforcement. Secondary enforcement has been widely cited by Ohio law enforcement as a reason the texting law is ineffectual -- a common complaint in states with that limit on distracted driving laws. Police … [Read more...]

Vermont cell phone law in effect

state flag of vermont

It's hands off or pay up for Vermont drivers attached to their cell phones. The state's first handheld cell phone law went into effect Oct. 1. Fines are up to $200 for first offenders but no points unless the violation occurs in a work zone (two points). Subsequent violations can bring penalties of $250 to $500. Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles foresees "a major adjustment" for state drivers. He said the law was needed to combat distracted driving, which has reached "epidemic proportions" in New England. Meanwhile, in Maryland, "Jake's Law" also took effect Oct. 1. … [Read more...]

Texas texting shootout ready to resume

texas legislature

After a two-year pause, Texas is about to resume its legislative range war over texting and driving. Texas, which places no restrictions on adult drivers' use of personal electronics, does bar drivers under age 18 from using wireless communications devices. It is among the dwindling numbers of states without a texting ban affecting all motorists. In 2013, an outraged state Rep. Tom Craddick saw his second attempt at a Texas texting ban clear the House but fail to gain even a committee vote in the Senate. There wasn't much of a point, opponents said, since Texas Gov. Rock Perry already … [Read more...]

Distracted deputy won’t be prosecuted

Milt Olin was an avid cyclist.

A Southern California lawman won't face criminal charges despite killing a man while driving distracted, county prosecutors have decided. In Calabasas, a suburb of Los Angeles, Deputy Andrew Wood was electronically communicating with another deputy at the time he hit and killed bicyclist Milton Olin, and therefore couldn't be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, the L.A. County Prosecutor's Office concluded. Wood was using his work laptop while driving along a quiet stretch of suburban road. The deputy said he failed to see the bicyclist, a music industry attorney, and did not brake … [Read more...]