Florida’s texting law already targeted

State Sen. Maria Sachs of Florida

Florida's debate over distracted driving is far from over, even though the Sunshine State finally has a ban on texting while driving. The new text messaging law, which went into effect Oct. 1, isn't getting much respect from safety experts, survivors groups, the press and some lawmakers, many of whom cite the ban's secondary-enforcement status as weak and ineffectual. State Sen. Maria Sachs (pictured) used the bully pulpit of day 1 of the texting law to propose an upgrade to primary enforcement, which allows police to stop and cite violators for that reason alone. Secondary enforcement … [Read more...]

N.Y. signs off on ‘texting zones’

New York highway texting zone sign

New York is setting up "texting zones" on state thruways and highways, with rest stops, Park-n-Ride lots and the like doing double duty as safe harbors for text messaging. Sorry, no cyber cafes or blazing-fast wireless service. The initiative appears to boil down to 298 highway signs going up urging motorists to pull off the highway -- safely and in designated areas -- instead of engaging in distracted driving. "We are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next texting zone," … [Read more...]

Illinois bans handheld cell phones

Rep. John D'Amico of Illinois distracted driving foe

Illinois drivers will have to put down their cell phones come Jan. 1. Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law an Illinois ban on use of handheld mobile devices while driving. The state already prohibits text messaging while driving. Fines range from $75 (first offense) to $150. "Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented," Quinn said after the signing. The governor's approval of Aug. 16, which was expected, is another victory in the distracted driving arena for state Rep. John D'Amico, longtime leader of the Transportation Committee … [Read more...]

N.Y. texting fines up to $400

New York governor vs. distracted drivers image

New York's fines for electronic distracted driving have increased, as part of the state's multi-pronged attack on drivers who text message and use handheld cell phones. Fines max out at $400 for serial offenders. The tougher fines were included in the 2013-14 state budget. New York's governor said the move would address "a frightening epidemic on our roadways," calling the increase in traffic fines "an important tool to punish and prevent this reckless behavior." They are in addition to the late May hike in DMV points against violators' licenses to five. Points can be reflected in … [Read more...]

Oregon Legislature OKs doubled fines

oregon state flag

Oregon lawmakers have voted to increase fines for texting and using handheld mobile phones while driving to as much as $500. The plan now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who approved the expansion and toughening of the state's distracted driving law in 2011. Most violators would pay $250 plus fees for texting and cell phone convictions -- less than the new maximum. The current maximum fine, $250, would be doubled. The original Senate bill called for fines as high as $1,000. A rival plan in the House sought to increase the maximum fine to $2,000, but it was ignored. The … [Read more...]