Safe Drivers Act of 2011
The Safe Drivers Act of 2011 introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y, would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement regulations that would ban using handheld mobile devices while driving or idling on public roads except for emergency use.
The DOT would also be required to study distracted driving and its impact on young and inexperienced drivers. The results are to be concluded in two years time. Recommendations for adjusting distracted driving penalties and implementing new prohibitions to improve safety on the road will be made based on the study’s results, and states will have to abide by those recommendations.
“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” Rep. McCarthy said in a press release posted on McCarthy’s website. “With some basic commonsense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America.”
MI car dealers and drivers should know according to the text of the bill a “handheld device” is defined as “a mobile telephone or other personal wireless communication device that is meant for use with at least one hand.”
Vehicle-integrated systems or voice-operated technology are not included in that definition, and neither are global positioning systems (GPS) except when they require the driver to manually input instructions by hand; in that case, the “vehicle must not be moving or idling.”
If the bill is approved, the DOT will withhold federal highway transportation funds from states that fail to comply with minimum standards set forth by the DOT within two years from the bill’s enactment.
MI car dealers and drivers will have to wait to know what the penalties will be for first and repeat offenses, because they will be determined by the DOT after the completion of the study.
Distracted Driving by the Numbers:
• 5,474 – number of people who’ve died as a result of distracted driving in 2009
• 16 percent – number of traffic fatalities in 2009 that were the result of distracted driving
• 13 – states without any laws regarding handheld voice calls: Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming
• 10 – states without laws addressing texting while driving: Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota
• 8 – States with no laws whatsoever addressing usage of cell phones for calls or sending text messages: Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota
• 8 – States that prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington
MI Auto Times will continue to monitor the bill and report back if it passes.
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[Source(s): Detroit Free Press, CarolynMcCarthy.house.gov]