The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would make it illegal to use a cell phone, iPad, GPS, or other electronic device while driving, stopped at a light, or while sitting in traffic.
Last week the Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony from several people, including Earl Sweeney, the Commissioner of Safety, as to why HB 1360 should pass. If this does happen, and it’s still a ways off, New Hampshire would be the thirteenth state to make the use of hand-held cell phones and electronic devices illegal while driving.
The Concord Monitor quoted Sweeney as saying, “This is the most-needed piece of highway safety legislation to come before you this year.” He told the committee that in the state between 2010 and 2013 about 124 people died in car crashes caused by distracted drivers.
In addition to outlawing hand-held devices while driving, the bill would make all cell phone use illegal for drivers under the age of 18. Drivers would still be allowed to talk on phones if they used a hands-free set up that allowed them to make and receive calls with one push of a button.
New Hampshire has outlawed texting while driving. It is a “primary offense,” meaning that an officer can pull a driver over for texting while driving even if there are no other offenses being committed. The NH texting statute provides that a person cannot be driving and writing a text message at the same time. A conviction can result in a $100 fine.
Detractors of the new hands-free bill say that the texting law is not enforced, and they do not believe this one would be either. They argue that law enforcement should focus on existing laws before adding additional ones.
If the bill passes, a conviction would be a violation level. A first-time offense would result in a $100 fine, a second offense would be a $250 fine, and any convictions after that would be $500 per offense.
If the House and Senate approve the bill, it would go into effect on January 1, 2015.
If you or a loved one has been injured in NH due to a distracted driver, the personal injury attorneys at Tenn And Tenn in Manchester, NH can help. We can be reached on our Toll Free Injury Helpline at (888) 332-5855. Your personal injury telephone consultation is confidential and free of charge.