Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman reports:
Idaho Senate approves ban on texting while driving
OMG! But the bill wouldn't keep you from making cell phone calls while behind the wheel.
Put away your PDAs.
At least while you're operating a moving motor vehicle on Idaho roads.
The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the ban on motorists' texting. It needs approval by the House and the governor to become law.
No more reading, composing or sending e-mails, text messages, status updates on Facebook or wisecracking tweets from behind the wheel?
You know you do it.
Who among you hasn't grabbed a buzzing iPhone or BlackBerry to let someone know you are on your way or running late or stopping at Starbucks?
"I know it will have an effect on me," said Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith. "I'm not saying I'm guilty."
Drawing from federal definitions, the bill would outlaw any "review of, or preparation and transmission of typed messages via wireless device" while you are driving. Those prohibitions would be added to Idaho's inattentive driving statute.
But don't worry: You - and Smith - will still be able to text or tweet when stopped at a light.
Senate Bill 1352 would enable officers to cite you for inattentive driving if they see you texting, even if you weren't swerving from side to side or otherwise driving unsafely.
The misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.
Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, introduced the legislation one year after he refused to hold a hearing on a similar bill brought by Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise.
He says he changed his mind because several studies released in the last year show texting while driving slows driver's reaction times as much as having a 0.08 blood alcohol content. Other studies found that two-thirds of all teens and young adults send or receive texts while driving, McGee said.
"Young people have come up to me and asked me to make this a law," McGee said.
The Senate voted 29-5 to pass the bill. The measure now heads the House, where it could face a tougher vote.
This legislation puts texting while driving in the the same category as inattentive driving which is also a misdemeanor. The punishment fits the crime. With the increase in the use of texting while driving, action needs to be taken in order to promote the public safety. I ask all Idaho citizens to contact your Representative in the Idaho House of Representatives and ask them to vote yes on this piece of important legislation. As previously reported, a driver who is operating a motor vehicle while texting is essentially driving while impaired and is significantly more at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
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