Should you be allowed to use a cell phone while driving?
By: LFDA Editor
New Hampshire is one of 30 states with a law prohibiting texting-while-driving. Under state law
(enacted in 2010), drivers caught texting are subject to a $100 fine.
For an officer to prove a violation, the driver must consent to a check of the phone log or the officer must present a search warrant.
Some legislators want to increase penalties for texting-while-driving, and some want to ban all cell phone use while driving.
Proponents of a tougher distracted driving law argue that it will decrease accidents. According to the New Hampshire Safety Administration, twenty-nine percent of fatal accidents in 2010 were caused by distracted drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board has accordinly called for a ban on all cell phone use by drivers,
including wireless and hands-free devices.
Opponents contend that distracted driving laws are too difficult to enforce and point out there is already a negligent driving law on the books.
When the House Transportation Committee rejected a ban on cell phone use while driving in 2011, committee member Rep. Lisa E. Scontsas said, "The negligent driving statue already covers this type of distraction. As a committee we are going to work on this statue to be more effective. There are many distractions on the road today. We must try to make people understand that they need to be more responsible while driving." (see House Journal 30)
Rep. Sylvia Gale (D-Nashua) is the primary sponsor of two 2014 bills related to distracted driving, HB 1117 and HB 1118. HB 117 would prohibit any cell phone use while driving, unless the phone is hands-free. HB 1118 would prohibit any cell phone by bus and taxi drivers in particular. Both bills include a $100 fine.
Rep. Laura Pantelakos (D-Portsmouth) is sponsoring HB 1360, a 2014 bill which expands the distracted driving statute to include "anything which is interfering with or impeding the proper operation," including GPS devices and cell phones, unless hands-free. Drivers under eighteen would also be forbidden from using hands-free devices.