September 20, 2009 in City

Idaho lawmakers say it’s time to ban texting while driving

Democrats also plan to introduce bill requiring hands-free cell phone devices
Associated Press
 

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers plan to sponsor bills in the 2010 legislative session to prohibit people from sending text messages while driving.

Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, and the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus on Friday said they intended to put forward the bills.

“I think it’s probably time that we make that practice illegal,” McGee told the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Another bill the Democrats plan would require drivers to use hands-free devices while talking on their cell phones.

Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, sponsored similar legislation that failed in the 2009 session. He will be the sponsor of the bills announced by Democrats.

Co-sponsors of the bills will include JoAn Wood, the Republican chairwoman of the House Transportation and Defense Committee, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Elliot Werk and House Democrats Liz Chavez, Elfreda Higgins and Anne Pasley-Stuart.

“Public awareness of the dangers of texting while driving has increased exponentially this summer,” Bock said in a statement. “We now know that the longer we wait to act, the more lives will be lost.”

Last session, Bock’s bill didn’t make it out of the Senate Transportation Committee, which McGee chairs.

“At the time, I didn’t think that the bill had been vetted,” McGee said. “But now that we’ve seen more studies I believe now is the time to act.”

Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said he would consider the texting bill but was uncertain on the one that required drivers to use a hands-free device.

“I certainly understand the texting aspect of it,” Bolz said. “But the cell phone I kind of waver on.”

He also said Idaho has a law that prohibits inattentive driving.

“Why don’t we use that?” Bolz said.

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, said he would consider the bills.

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