Posts tagged: texting
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: RIGBY, Idaho (AP) ― Police say a 22-year-old eastern Idaho driver was looking at a text message on his phone when he hit a sheriff deputy's parked patrol car. Brian J. Anderson, of Idaho Falls, was treated Tuesday for non-life threatening injuries. Idaho State Police say Anderson was traveling on U.S. Route 20 north of Rigby when the accident occurred. Police say Anderson was looking at a text message on his phone when he drove into the back of a patrol car parked on the side of the road. The Idaho State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/KRgTqo) that the Jefferson County sheriff's deputy was not in the patrol car at the time. The vehicle's lights were flashing to alert drivers to a fire in the median of the road. Anderson was cited for inattentive driving.
Idaho lawmakers this year made Idaho the 39th state to ban texting while driving, but the law doesn't take effect until July 1.
A new statewide survey shows that 87 percent of Idahoans favor a ban on texting while driving – including 78 percent who say they'd strongly support it. “It's higher than we would've guessed,” said Dave Carlson, spokesman for AAA of Idaho, which commissioned the statewide poll by Riley Research Associates of Portland. Yet Idaho lawmakers, who've struggled with the issue for the past two years, still haven't passed anything and Idaho doesn't ban texting while driving, unlike at least 30 other states.
“I've already got a texting bill sitting on my desk that I had drawn up,” said Idaho Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene. “I hope we can move forward with it, just to take care of those concerns.”
Two years ago, a texting-while-driving ban was killed on the final night of Idaho's legislative session, despite having won majority support in both houses, when then-Rep. Raul Labrador, now a congressman, used a parliamentary maneuver to require a two-thirds vote in the House. The bill got a 37-30 majority - not two-thirds. Last year, Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, proposed compromise legislation he described as “truly a piece of sausage” that would have banned texting if it distracted the driver, but not if it didn't; that didn't pass.
“I think we've tripped over the details,” Carlson said. “There's been a naysayer for every bill that's been brought, including, as you might recall, AAA last year, because we were hoping for something a little bit stronger.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
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.
The police department of the largest city in the state is banning texting while driving for its officers on patrol, an interesting move after the Idaho Legislature this year failed to pass such a ban for all Idaho drivers, even with an exemption in it for law enforcement and emergency workers. “There’s growing evidence that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for too long, and sadly, already has been a deadly distraction on our roads,” Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson told The Associated Press. “We have to follow the same safety advice we give to the people we serve — do not text and drive.” Click below to read the full story from AP reporter John Miller.
AAA says 30 states have now banned texting while driving, with the recent addition of Delaware, and the auto association says it’s Idaho’s turn to act. “Thirty states have shown there is legislative and public momentum to address texting in the larger framework of distracted driving. Twenty-four of these laws have been enacted in just the past two years,” said Jim Carlson, director of public and government affairs for AAA Idaho. “A year ago, AAA pledged its support to enact texting bans in all 50 states by the year 2013. AAA believes it’s Idaho’s turn to act on this issue.” You can read the AAA’s full statement here.
There was one issue on which Idaho lawmakers from both houses and both parties were united before this year’s legislative session even started: Making Idaho the 24th state to ban texting while driving. Yet, nothing passed - despite long hearings with impassioned testimony in favor of the move from everyone from teenage drivers to prosecutors to insurance lobbyists. It’s a lesson in legislative dysfunction and politics.
Though both the Senate and House had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a ban - in one form or another - the bill died in the closing moments of this year’s legislative session on a procedural vote, amid a spat between the two houses. ”I would say that that’s not the best representation of a functional system,” said Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, who delivered petitions with hundreds of signatures gathered by Post Falls 6th graders to the Senate Transportation Committee in favor of a ban. You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.
Idaho’s got bipartisan legislation in the works to ban texting while driving, a move roughly two dozen states already have made. Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, proposed similar legislation this year, but now he’s got a high-profile co-sponsor on board: House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby. “I’ve ben thinking about it for quite some time,” Wood told Eye on Boise. “Maybe it’s because I’m not very good at it anyway - there’s no way that I could do that and drive. I see kids coming out of the high school and doing it, and it really bothers me that they’re on the road and doing it.”
“This issue was a bit under the radar when we brought it up last winter,” Bock said. “But clearly, the time has come to enact legislation that will help drivers realize that it’s neither safe nor smart to text while driving.” He added, “Public awareness of the dangers of texting while driving has increased exponentially this summer. We now know that the longer we wait to act, the more lives will be lost.”
Bock’s other co-sponsors for the bill so far include Assistant Senate Minority Leader Elliot Werk, D-Boise; and Reps. Liz Chavez, D-Lewiston; Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, and Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise. Bock also has legislation in the works to require use of a hands-free device while talking on cell phones while driving, something that’s already the law in Washington. Wood said she hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor on that one at this point; she plans to look into the issue and confer with other members of the House Transportation Committee.