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Texting while stopped: Banning safe behavior

April 15. 2014 11:40PM

The state Senate is to vote Thursday on a bill to ban “driving” while using a “hand-held mobile electronic device capable of providing voice or data communication.” The bill includes as “driving” the act of being “temporarily halted in traffic for a traffic control device or other momentary delay.” House Bill 1360 would ban you from “using” your cell phone for any reason while stopped at a light or stuck in a traffic jam. There is a word for that: insane.

The bill allows hands-free phone use even though research shows it is just as distracting. But legislators are sometimes more interested in appearing to solve problems than in actually solving them. So we are set to ban people stuck in traffic from using their cell phones to alert their loved ones that they are stuck in traffic.

If HB 1360 passes, a driver stuck behind a road-closing accident could not, without pulling off the road, use his phone to look up an alternative route to his destination. Nor could a reporter call the office to report the accident so other drivers would know to avoid that road.

HB 1360 would create an offense (with fines from $100 to $500) for behavior that endangers no one. Senators should toss it.

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