Vermont plan: Allow cell phone searches

Citing enforcement problems, a Vermont legislator seeks to give police the ability to search motorists' cell phone for evidence of distracted driving. The plan from state Rep. Martin LaLonde operates on the concept of "implied consent" to the searches by all of those who drive in Vermont. Drivers who refuse to hand over their mobile phones would face the same fines applied to those who use handheld cell phones or text message. LaLonde's plan runs counter to the trend in crafting distracted driving laws. Police searches or seizures of cell phones sometimes are prohibited by individual … [Read more...]

Canadians to distracted drivers: Enough

Manitoba has joined Ontario in stiffening its fines for distracted drivers. Both provinces have punishments that rank among the toughest in North America. The Manitoba government on June 4 unveiled a new 5-demerit penalty vs. the driver's license. The existing $200 fine remains the same. Distracted drivers previously faced a 2-demerit assessment. The new penalty goes into effect July 1. "This is the highest level of demerit points in Canada for the use of a handheld device," said Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh, left. All Canadian provinces use demerits to punish distracted … [Read more...]

April: Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, entering its fifth year. It's an event without an official sponsor, but the NHTSA seems to be taking the lead with its "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." campaign. Meanwhile, law agencies are taking the opportunity to crack down on distracted drivers. Hawaii, California and Connecticut are among the states warning motorists of distracted driving sweeps in April, backed in large part by federal funds. The National Safety Council once again took the occasion to promote the idea that hands-free use of electronic communications devices was no safer than … [Read more...]

New tech, new era of driver distractions

Lawmakers trying to come to grips with the technology behind distracted driving won't find the going any easier when they get back to work in 2015. Police across the nation already complain that state distracted driving laws are ineffectual in the era of smartphones -- devices that are essentially handheld personal computers. Many state laws were written when cell phone calls were the main concern -- and even text messaging was a relatively new phenomenon. Among the high-tech products distracting drivers -- and challenging lawmakers in 2015: Google Glass: Wearable technology that … [Read more...]

Wash. state panel: Rewrite cell phone laws

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...]