Friday, September 13, 2019

Senator Bill Diamond helps to pass law to keep hands on the wheel

Pat Moody of AAA, Sen. Diamond and Rep. Mark Bryant.
Can you tell the difference if the driver of this car
was intoxicated or intexticated
By Matt Pascarella

Distracted driving is unsafe and has been a problem for a while. And it’s only getting worse. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 every day.

Recently, Senator Bill Diamond introduced and passed LD 165, a bill “To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving.” This bill will go into effect on September 19, 2019.
The bill was created out of a similar law that Senator Diamond sponsored in 2011, that made texting while driving illegal. However, while it was illegal to text and drive, it was not illegal to use your phone or have it in your hand.“We talked with law enforcement and the biggest problem is texting while driving; the crashes, the injuries are just exponentially increasing,” stated Senator Diamond. “What this says is you cannot have your phone or device in your hand. Everything in this bill is all about hands-free. You look down for two seconds, often times it’s three or four seconds – and in that short amount of time a lot can happen. And that’s a problem. This fixes it.”

This bill allows law enforcement to stop an individual if they are holding a phone in their hand, no matter what they’re doing. Diamond reminds the reader that you can attach your phone to your dash with a clip and if a call comes in, tap the button and talk or talk through Bluetooth.

We use the phone for so much more than calling people, and the temptation is there to use it. Senator Diamond goes on to say, “Just like we did with seatbelts; when we passed the seatbelt law people said, ‘you can’t make people put on a seatbelt.’ With public awareness and education, we did. It’s to the point now where, if you’re in a car without a seatbelt, most of us feel weird, and secondly, we got kids in the car who say, ‘hey dad, you don’t have your seatbelt on.’” Like the seatbelt law, this hands-free device while driving law is a cultural change.

What happens if you still do it? The first time is a $50 fine and every time after that is a $250 fine.
 “All Law Enforcement is going at this full speed; they’ve all become frustrated with the needless accidents because someone was distracted; and most of that distraction was with a phone,” added Senator Diamond. “It’s going to be very aggressive, and people need to know this. If they can break this culture, break this habit, they’re going to literally save lives.”

Pat Moody, Manager of Public Affairs for AAA of Northern New England has met with Senator Diamond and AAA has a campaign centered around not driving ‘intexticated’.

“AAA is an advocate for traffic safety. We do a lot of research on distraction in all facets of driver safety, we survey our members, then we also do research through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to better understand those aspects of driver safety. Specifically, we’ve done some work on distracted driving...the one big thing that comes out of this is that cognitive distraction is real. With this specific law it’s going to get that device out of their hands, so people are less likely to do things like Snapchat, check Facebook, send a text message – all those things that take your eyes off the road.”

The essence of AAA’s slogan; ‘Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive intexticated’ is both these driving behaviors end up with the same result. “A lot of people would never think of drinking and driving; dropping the kids to school and taking a sip of beer but they don’t think twice about sending a text,” added Moody. Texting and driving have become a habit, and come September 19th, people are going to have to think twice when they’re in their vehicle. driver and 16 year old junior at Windham High, Hayleigh Moody stated, “You will be hard pressed to find a teen without a cellphone these days. When your phone “pings” and you know you have a text, it is really temping to take a quick peek and check it. Unfortunately, it only takes a glance away from the road for really bad things to happen. I think parents are key; the more they demonstrate that texting while driving isn’t appropriate then their kids will be more likely to follow their example. My dad uses the “do not disturb while driving” feature of his cell phone so it temporarily holds text messages until he is parked. The new “hands free” law...will help change behavior of adult drivers and when a teen sees that their parents are less distracted by their phones while driving, hopefully they will follow their example.”

“This is one of the most important bills I’ve ever passed because of the result of saving lives and injuries. I’m proud of this because I think it’s one of those things where an immediate difference can be made,” concluded Senator Diamond.

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