Hold the phone! Or rather, don’t hold it…
On Tuesday, July 6, Mayor Charmaine Tavares signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to use a cellular phone or other mobile electronic devices while driving, making us the last county in the state to adopt the distracted driving law. Almost all of the 50 states have restrictions on drivers’ use of cell phones, or are wrangling with various plans to limit their use.
Bill 40 states, “No person shall operate a motor vehicle while using [later defined as holding] a mobile electronic device.”
The mayor waited as long as she could to endorse the bill to give us “as much time as possible to prepare and learn more about the new law.”
Why the council didn’t craft the bill to take effect further “down the road” is mystery. Maybe evolving in sync with technology is proving to be a bit challenging for lawmakers.
In the olden days, a phone booth on wheels, or a mobile office/entertainment center probably weren’t even a twinkle in some mad scientist’s eye. Back then, we drove around trying to find distractions. With hands at ten and two, we hummed to radio tunes as we motored along. No CD player, no DVD movies, no iPhone, iTunes, iPod, iPad… not even a cup holder. Just an ashtray and a glove compartment. Not too challenging.
But, said the mayor, “As our county’s population of drivers increase and technology finds its way into everyday activities, it’s become necessary to consider additional ways to help keep motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists safe.”
“The community we help to keep safe includes all of our families and friends, so although the new law may inconvenience some drivers, it’s an important one. I encourage drivers to take steps now to prepare for this new law and learn more about it.”
Conveniences become needs so easily, don’t they? Nevertheless, the law is in effect now. First-time offenders face a fine of up to $100 and subsequent offenses could get you a fine of $250 or more.
An exception to the ban provides that drivers may use a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth to receive telephone calls. There are other exceptions you need to know, so until you familiarize yourself with the details of the new law, just turn your cell phone off and keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.