New N.Y. penalties, suspensions in effect

New York governor vs. distracted drivers image

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. "The message is clear: Distracted driving is deadly and it will simply not be tolerated on New York roads," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (pictured) said in announcing the tougher distracted driving penalties and suspensions. "Vigilance is particularly important as young motorists develop habits that will stay with them throughout their lifetime." As of … [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...]

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...]

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...]

Study: Primary enforcement saves lives

texting & driving california sign

"Primary enforcement" of distracted driving laws leads to lower death rates in states with texting laws, while secondary enforcement does not, according to a new study. Meanwhile, another research team found that California's handheld device failed to lower the number of vehicle crashes in its first six months. The study on primary enforcement should bolster state lawmakers seeking to give police the ability to stop and cite distracted driving offenders. "Very little is known about whether laws banning texting while driving have actually improved roadway safety," said researcher Alva … [Read more...]