Texas texting shootout ready to resume

Austin, Texas, capitol for texing vote

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...]

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...]

Vermont gets handheld cell law

Debbie Drewniak text messaging victim

Gov. Peter Shumlin wasn't entirely convinced, but Debbie Drewniak had no doubts as Vermont's handheld cell phone bill was signed into law. Drewniak, pictured, whose life nearly was ended by a teen who was texting and driving, was awarded the pen that Shumlin used to sign the distracted driving measure into law. It goes into effect Oct. 1, with fines ranging from $200 to $500. "This is an example where a governor listens and changes his mind," Shumlin said at the bill June 12 bill signing. The governor said he heard the voices of those Vermont residents who "desperately wanted this … [Read more...]

Assembly: Hike Calif. cell phone fine

California Assemblyman Jim Frazier

The California Assembly wants to present Gov. Jerry Brown with a new plan to more than double fines for electronic distracted driving. The Assembly approved a bill from Assemblyman Jim Frazier (pictured) that seeks to hike the current fine for handheld cell phone use or texting from $20 to $50. Subsequent fines would be $100 with a point vs. the driver's license. Brown vetoed almost identical legislation in 2011. The sponsor, state Sen. Joe Simitian, tried again in 2012 -- with lesser fines -- but that measure too was axed by Brown. Brown wrote in his 2011 veto message: “For people of … [Read more...]