Senator Diamond’s Distracted Driver Bill Closer to Becoming Law
May 7, 2009
AUGUSTA— The long awaited LD 6, An Act to Establish a Distracted Driver Law, sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond, (D-Cumberland County) passed in the Maine Senate yesterday. This bill was recently voted out of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation with a unanimous ought to pass as amended vote.
LD 6 makes failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle due to driving distracted a traffic infraction. It defines the term "distracted" as driving while engaged in an activity that is not necessary to operate your vehicle and that impairs your ability drive safely.
“This bill is a little broader than just addressing cell phone use while driving,” Diamond explained. “It takes into consideration eating while driving, putting on make-up, reaching into the backseat; doing something that takes your concentration off the road and could potentially cause an accident. It doesn’t make these actions illegal, as long as the driver isn’t distracted, but it will make drivers pay more attention.”
Senator Diamond sponsored this legislation as a result of an incident on the turnpike last summer, when a state trooper saw a woman driving through the toll booths during the 4th of July weekend while watching the "Gilmore Girls" on her laptop. The trooper issued a warning, but not a fine because there was no specific law that had been violated.
“Current Maine law specifically mentions certain actions which are prohibited while driving, such as driving while under the influence, smoking with passengers younger than 16 years of age present, or using a cell phone while driving if the driver is under 18 years old. This new law will avoid trying to list each and every activity which could potentially be a distraction to a driver. It simply says that a driver must be in control of the vehicle at all times.”
LD 6 will come before the Maine House of Representatives for a vote today. Upon passage in the House, it will return to the Senate for enactment and then will be sent down to the Governor to be signed into law.
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