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...]

Calif. teen-texting loophole closed

California teens are breaking the law if they text message while driving. Period. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation closing a loophole that allowed drivers under 18 to use voice-activated technology to text while driving. The novice drivers aren't allowed to use communications devices such as smartphones, whether hand-held or hands-free. (Adults are permitted to use hands-free devices.) But a 2012 revision to California's distracted driving laws permits use of hands-free technology for texting, and that change applied to all drivers. The 2012 change to the driving laws followed … [Read more...]

Calif. closing teen texting loophole

California teens who use voice-activated technology to get around the state's ban on texting & driving are likely to see that loophole closed. If signed by the governor, a plan OK'd by the Legislature will prohibit use of voice-operated, hands-free texting technology by drivers under age 18. The ban would include texting via "infotainment" dashboards and voice-responsive apps such as the widely used Siri on iPhones. Teens already are barred from using cell phones -- whether held or hands-free -- but a 2012 law appears to give them permission to use the hands-free texting technologies … [Read more...]

Illinois bans handheld cell phones

Illinois drivers will have to put down their cell phones come Jan. 1. Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law an Illinois ban on use of handheld mobile devices while driving. The state already prohibits text messaging while driving. Fines range from $75 (first offense) to $150. "Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented," Quinn said after the signing. The governor's approval of Aug. 16, which was expected, is another victory in the distracted driving arena for state Rep. John D'Amico, longtime leader of the Transportation Committee … [Read more...]

Running Google Glass off the road

The high-fashion high-tech Google glasses won't be in style for West Virginia motorists. At least that's the idea behind new legislation seeking to outlaw driving while wearing computer headgear with visual displays. Gary Howell, a conservative delegate, said he was inspired to pre-emptively ban the so-called Google Glass by reading articles about the emerging technology. Google Glass is not yet on the market, but the promotional push already is under way. The glasses would run afoul of Howell's proposed law because they "project visual information into the field of vision of the wearer." … [Read more...]