UPDATE: I originally wrote this post yesterday, but had to share a few things from my ride home after having posted this. While in traffic just south of Providence, RI, I snapped a quick picture of the very clear signage that is displayed on the highway about the new law. Yes, I was stopped in traffic at the time.
What I found so ironic was the driver in front of. A professional looking guy in a dress shirt who was continually looking down at his phone while in this traffic. When cars would begin to move, he would leave a large gap, so he could keep looking at his phone and when he finally looked up, he would speed ahead until he had to stop or slow down again. Repeat, over and over and over. Any wonder why these laws are necessary? He almost caused a rear ender at least twice and then zipped across two lanes to make his exit that he almost missed. Unreal.
Even more unreal was the woman just south of Boston. Again, bumper to bumper traffic. This lady had a sticker on her rear window that read, “Keep Calm, Baby on Board.” That’s nice, expect she was on her phone texting the entire time we were in traffic. She had her phone in her hand, about level with her steering wheel. I wish I was kidding. Her window was down and were it not for my wife’s voice in my head imploring me not to do it, for fear of freaking her out, I would have rolled down my window and yelled to her that she was being incredibly foolish. So yes, we clearly need these laws and we need them enforced.
Below is the original post:
I am working in our Rhode Island office today and while driving in this morning, the highway signs were all aglow announcing the implementation of Rhode Island’s new hands free law, which goes into effect tomorrow, June 1, 2018.
One of the things I like about the Rhode Island law is that if you are cited for a violation, you may receive a waiver of the $100 fine if you show proof of purchase for a hands free device. This only applies to your first citation, but I like that it encourages you to comply by incenting you to do the right thing.
I also like the fact that car manufacturers are embedding ever improving technology in their vehicles so that you can truly be hands free while you drive. I recently purchased a new car and I can be 100% hands free thanks to various technologies, including Siri Eyes Free, which allows me to send text messages or call people without ever taking my eyes off the road.
My home state of New Hampshire, has had a pretty strict hands free law on the books for several years now. Obviously, the intent of these laws is to prevent distracted driving from drivers making calls, using apps and texting while driving. Unfortunately, even with these laws in place, I still see a lot of people holding their phones and using them while driving.
You know what I’m talking about. You see the cars just sitting at a green light, because they were stopped and picked up their phone to text or check social media, etc. and then the light turns green and they are staring at their phone instead of the road and the traffic light they are at. Or, you see a car drifting between lanes on the highway, often you will see the driver looking at their phone.
As of tomorrow, 16 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. When it comes to text messaging, 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. These are referred to as primary laws, meaning you can be pulled over and issued a ticket just for this. It does not have to be in conjunction with another reason for being stopped by the police.
I wish it were all 50 states and territories and a complete ban, not just texting, but at least we are getting closer. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, only Montana has no laws regarding cell phone use or texting. The GHSA has a great overview of laws, state by state, which you may review at this link. Just click the + sign next to any state to see the specifics.