New tech, new era of driver distractions

Woman wearing Google Glass

Lawmakers trying to come to grips with the technology behind distracted driving won't find the going any easier when they get back to work in 2015. Police across the nation already complain that state distracted driving laws are ineffectual in the era of smartphones -- devices that are essentially handheld personal computers. Many state laws were written when cell phone calls were the main concern -- and even text messaging was a relatively new phenomenon. Among the high-tech products distracting drivers -- and challenging lawmakers in 2015: Google Glass: Wearable technology that … [Read more...]

New N.Y. penalties, suspensions in effect

Andew Cuomo

New York drivers who text message or use handheld cell phones are looking at new maximum fines for the offenses. Young and new drivers, meanwhile, are flirting with a yearlong loss of their licenses for electronic distracted driving violations. "Driving habits are developed early, and we are sending a message that texting while driving is unsafe, unacceptable and downright dangerous," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (pictured) said in announcing the tougher distracted driving penalties and suspensions. "There have been far too many avoidable tragedies due to texting while driving, and with these new … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

4 state distracted driving law changes

state texting ban sign

The distracted driving landscape shifted in four states with the coming of the second half of 2014. In New Mexico and South Dakota, text messaging and driving has been banned for all drivers. In New Jersey, distracted drivers face penalties that go as high as $800 per offense. In Hawaii, fines go to a uniform $250, a significant bump for first offenders who previously paid $100. New Mexico's texting & driving plan sailed through the Legislature earlier in the year, with only five lawmakers opposed in the House and one in the Senate. It was then signed into law by a receptive … [Read more...]