Calif. court: OK to hold phone for map

California's hand-held cell phone law applies only to drivers who are engaged in a call, an appeals court has ruled. The ruling favored a driver, Steven Spriggs, who was ticketed for checking a map application while stopped in heavy traffic. "Spriggs contends he did not violate the statute because he was not talking on the telephone," the Fifth District Court of Appeal said in a ruling published Feb. 27. "We agree. "Based on the statute's language, its legislative history, and subsequent legislative enactments, we conclude that the statute means what it says -- it prohibits a … [Read more...]

11 states flash red for safety laws

Eleven states are "dangerously behind" in adopting highway safety laws, according to an advocacy group's annual report. The states include Florida, Arizona, Nebraska and Alabama. Also making the group's dumb-and-dumber list are South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota ranked as the worst in the nation in terms of "optimal" laws. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 15 basic traffic safety laws. It assigns a rating of green, yellow or red to each state. The 2014 "Roadmap … [Read more...]

Nebraska’s secondary laws targeted

State Sen. John Harms of Nebraska has been pushing for modernized traffic safety laws for most of his time in the Legislature, dating back to 2006. With one year to go, Harms is rounding up his key issues in the ambitious Nebraska Roadway Safety Act bill. The 2014 bill seeks to eliminate "secondary enforcement" from key Nebraska traffic safety laws, including the ban on texting & driving. Harms says the bill's six-part approach may find more success in the Legislature than individual measures, such as several he has carried over from 2013. The comprehensive legislation "brings … [Read more...]

The year in distracted driving: 2013

The year 2013 saw plenty of action on the distracted driving front -- from the legislatures to the courts to the streets. The year started with a bang as the nation's No. 1 fighter of distracted driving stepped down. Here's a look back: LaHood says he's leaving (Jan. 29): U.S. Department of Transportation chief Ray LaHood confirms he's stepping down from his Cabinet-level post. The move, while expected, was widely seen as a blow to the fight against distracted driving at the national level. LaHood, left, detailed a string of DOT achievements during his tenure, beginning with the efforts to … [Read more...]

2014’s new distracted driving laws

New distracted driving laws greet the New Year in a handful of states, notably Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and California. In Illinois, holding a cell phone while driving becomes illegal Jan. 1. The state already prohibits text messaging while driving. Fines range from $75 (first offense) to $150. In Oregon, fines for texting and using handheld mobile phones while driving increase to as much as $500. Most violators will pay $250 plus fees for texting and cell phone convictions -- less than the new maximum. The old maximum fine, $250, will be doubled as of Jan. 1. In Vermont, penalties … [Read more...]