The Idaho Transportation Department had been working on legislation to propose in January to ban texting by commercial truck drivers, to comply with a recently enacted federal rule, but now the proposed legislation is being withdrawn. The reason: Another new federal rule has come out, banning all use of handheld cell phones by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers while operating their vehicles.
Idaho has to comply with the first rule by Oct. 20, 2013; it has three years to comply with the new one on cell phones. Rather than move ahead with just the first part, ITD's staff is recommending holding off until the 2013 legislative session, and developing legislation to bring the state into compliance with both rules. The ITD board, which is meeting today, is expected to approve its staff's recommendation to hold off until next year to come up with more comprehensive legislation, to “avoid confusion on the part of vehicle operators and law enforcement.”
Meanwhile, Idaho lawmakers have been debating texting-while-driving bans for all drivers for several years, without ever reaching agreement on any particular proposal; some Idaho cities, including Twin Falls and Meridian, have passed their own bans since state lawmakers haven't acted.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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