Senator Diamond Submits Proposal to Ban Texting While Driving
August 31, 2010
AUGUSTA—Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, has introduced a bill to ban texting while driving. The proposed legislation follows the passage of a law in the 124th Legislative Session to establish a distracted driver law, which was also sponsored by Senator Diamond.
Commenting on the proposal, Senator Diamond said, “Evidence continues to grow that as mobile phone technology expands, more and more people are taking advantage of options like texting, emailing, and Internet browsing. Unfortunately, the statistics and surveys all demonstrate that drivers are taking advantage of these mobile texting and Internet technologies while operating a vehicle.”
One study, Senator Diamond points out, suggests that 81 percent of drivers admit using cell phones while driving.
According to a recent AAA Survey, one in seven drivers admitted to text messaging while driving. Another study by Safe Kids USA, found that one in every six motorists driving through a school zone was visibly distracted as a result of either using a mobile phone for talking or texting.
“While Maine took a big step forward passing a distracted driver law in 2009, it is clear to me now that measure deals more with the EFFECT. The proposed ban on texting while driving I have put forward deals better with the CAUSE of the problem,” Senator Diamond added.
In a recent AAA/ Seventeen Magazine survey almost nine in 10 teenage drivers (86%) admitted to driving while distracted. Although young drivers are most at risk they are not alone. “The announcement of Senator Diamond’s sponsorship of this important traffic safety measure is timely as many young Maine motorists prepare to start a new school year,” Pat Moody director of public affairs AAA Northern New England said.
“The activity of texting while driving is inherently dangerous for all drivers and this is an excellent opportunity to remind Maine teen drivers, that it is illegal to text while driving until you have reached 18 years of age,” Mr. Moody added.
As a former Maine Secretary of State, Senator Diamond said he has worked to improve a number of laws affecting driver safety. Senator Diamond became involved with this issue when he attended the U.S. Department of Transportation Distracted Driver Summit sponsored by Secretary Ray LaHood in September of 2009. At that time, seven states had passed laws banning texting while driving. Today, more than 30 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws addressing this dangerous behavior.
Close to home, New Hampshire’s texting ban became effective Jan 1, 2010, Vermont’s texting ban became effective June 1, 2010, and Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a bill into law that will become effective in October.
Senator Diamond plans to attend this year's invitational "Distracted Driving Summit," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation on September 14th in Washington, D.C. to learn more about what other states have been doing.
Senator Diamond said he has launched a Facebook Page entitled “Ban Texting While Driving in Maine” to help promote the legislation and issue.