‘Considerable decrease’ in Calif. distracted driving

The annual observational study of California drivers found almost 8 percent were using electronic communications devices while behind the wheel during 2017. That's down from almost 13 percent in 2016, the state Office of Traffic Safety reported. Overall, researchers cited a "considerable decrease" in distracted driving in California between 2016 and 2017. Officials and researchers credited the improvement to the state's recent rewrite of its electronic distracted driving law and the effect of years of public safety campaigns. A change in survey methodology also may have had an … [Read more...]

‘Red’ lights for 7 states in texting laws survey

Seven states received negative ratings from an annual roadway safety report due to their lax texting & laws. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety study fingered Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota for their lack of effective texting laws. Arizona, Missouri and Montana do not have universal texting & driving bans. Florida, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota have texting laws, but enforcement is hindered by the secondary enforcement status. Ohio avoided the group's "red" for "danger" signifier by having a cell phone restriction for novice drivers. … [Read more...]

U.S. distracted driving fatalities slip 2.2%

The number of distracted driving deaths slipped in 2016, bucking the trend in a year that saw overall fatalities rise 5.6 percent, federal officials report. The overall number of deaths linked to distracted driving was 3,450, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That compares with 3,526 in 2015. The decrease was 2.2 percent for "distraction-affected crashes," the DOT said. Deaths related to other reckless behaviors -- including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts -- continued to increase, the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said … [Read more...]

Oregon’s new distracted driving law in force

A comprehensive rewrite of Oregon's distracted driving law is now in effect. Targeting various ambiguities in the old law, the new rules focus on the holding of "mobile electronic devices" such as smartphones. "That's the key," says House Bill 2597 author Rep. Andy Olson. “The law doesn’t say you can't use (cell phones and smartphones), you just can’t have them in your hand." The plan also upgrades first-time infractions from Class C to Class B ($260 first offense). Two-time violators are looking at a $435 penalty. Third or subsequent convictions within a decade bring a minimum … [Read more...]

Maine governor axes handheld cell phone law

Gov. Paul LePage says Maine doesn't need more "social engineering" -- and has vetoed the Legislature's handheld cell phone ban. The Republican governor said legislators and police should instead focus on the state's existing laws regarding texting & driving and distracted driving. "We have a distracted driver law, we have a texting law -- if they're not working let's figure out why and make them work," LePage, left, said in announcing the veto on a morning talk-radio show. State Sen. Bill Diamond's LD 1089 still could have become law, but the House's vote of Aug. 2 did not reach the … [Read more...]