Alaska rethinks texting & driving law

Alaska is reining in its texting & driving law to encourage police to actually enforce it. Following the lead of Anchorage, the state's largest city, the Legislature approved and sent to the governor a plan to make an electronic device offense a traffic violation instead of a class A misdemeanor, if no injury or death occurs. Alaska's distracted driving offenses currently range from class A misdemeanors (simple texting) to class A felonies (causing a death) with offenders subject to jury trials. Fines under the new scheme would top out at $500. A spokesman for state Sen. Kevin … [Read more...]

N.Y. considers cell phone ‘field tests’

New York legislation envisions roadside electronic scans for cell phones possessed by drivers involved in wrecks. "Field tests" under the proposed "Evan's Law" would seek to determine whether the cell phone was used at the time of the crash, but the scanning technology would not provide police with access to user content on the device. Israeli firm Cellebrite reportedly is developing the scanning technology, dubbed the "textalyzer." The distracted driving legislation, from Assembly member Felix Ortiz and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, calls for application of "implied consent" by all … [Read more...]

Wisconsin: Hang up in road-work zones

Wisconsin has outlawed use of handheld mobile phones in construction zones. The law comes in response to a trio of highway workers' deaths in 2015 and was requested by local county highway commissioners. The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, comes with fines ranging from $40 to $100. Wisconsin has a general texting & driving law, but does not prohibit use of cell phones by adult drivers. State Rep. Peter Barca tried to change that during the 2016 legislative session, but his handheld cell phone bill was ignored by the Republican-controlled Transportation Committee. "They're just not … [Read more...]

Indiana texting law takes a beating

A federal appeals court has cast a dubious eye on Indiana's texting & driving law. Ruling in the case of a suspected drug trafficker pulled over for texting, the court found that "the most plausible inference from seeing a driver fiddling with his cell phone is that he is not texting" -- citing a list of other activities possible on smartphones. In the decision dated Feb. 18, the court found: "No fact perceptible to a police officer glancing into a moving car and observing the driver using a cell phone would enable the officer to determine whether it was a permitted or a forbidden … [Read more...]

Nine states flagged for texting laws

An annual survey of highway safety laws gigs nine states for having ineffective distracted driving laws. Six of those receive overall "red" ratings for anemic safety laws. A majority of the states gigged as falling "dangerously behind in adoption of key safety laws" were lacking texting and driving laws with full enforcement. Those "red" states are Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Florida. "People are needlessly dying on our streets and roads while state elected leaders are needlessly delaying enactment of lifesaving laws," group President Jacqueline Gillan … [Read more...]