Hands-Free Driving Law Needed

Public safety advocates have been disappointed this week that the legislature has failed to adopt a bill in this legislative session that would ban the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle unless the devices are used in hands-free mode.

Distracted driving is a huge and ever-growing problem, surpassing drunk driving as a source of carnage on our roadways. The National Safety Council asserts that distracted driving accounted for 26 percent of the 30,000 lives lost in motor vehicle accidents in 2013. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

It is estimated that five seconds is the average time a driver’s eyes are taken off the road while reading or sending a text message. At 55 mph, those five seconds are enough to cover the length of a football field. The result has been an estimated one million motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.

Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia prohibit drivers from using handheld mobile devices, including New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont.

With polls asserting that 80 percent of the public supports a hands-free driving law, we hope that the legislature will take steps to enact this needed legislation when the new legislature reconvenes in January.

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