A proposed law in New Hampshire that would ban school bus drivers from using a hand-held cellphone while driving is one of three driver distraction bills that were recently reviewed by the state House Transportation Committee.
The three bills aim at cutting down on distracted driving in all forms, from banning all electronic devices, to forbidding applying makeup while driving. They all received universal support during the committee hearing, but the committee most likely would combine key features of each bill into one piece of legislation for full House consideration later in the session, according to the Union Leader.
House Bill 1117 would ban hand-held cellphone use while driving, and HB 1118 applies to school bus drivers as well as drivers of “any vehicle carrying passengers for hire,” such as transit buses, limousines and taxis.
The third bill, HB 1360, goes further, banning all electronic devices, or “anything which is interfering with or impeding the proper operation of the vehicle,” such as reading, composing or writing email and text messages, and using either hand to access the Internet or even to put data into a GPS system. The bill also specifies banning other forms of distracted driving, such as reading a newspaper or using a computer, even including allowing a pet to ride on the lap of the driver.
Police, health and highway transportation officials spoke in favor of the legislative proposals, but New Hampshire State Police Lt. Matthew Shapiro, who oversees the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit, strongly supported HB 1360. He said the current law is insufficient and, many times, unenforceable. He noted that as many as 28 percent of the state’s fatal crashes were related to distracted driving in the last six years.
Presently, state law bans only typing and sending text messages while driving, but it doesn’t outlaw reading text messages, surfing the Internet, dialing cellphones or programming GPS devices while driving.
Whether the bills are combined or not, if signed into law, the state’s new driver distraction legislation would take effect Jan. 1, 2015.