Courts on the Kenai Peninsula and in Fairbanks have recently ruled that an existing law forbidding drivers from looking at devices with screens – such as computers and DVD players – does not forbid a driver from using a cell phone to send a text message. Lawmakers are afraid that legal opinion will spread to other jurisdictions, and are talking up a bill that would make certain that texting is not to be considered legal. The House Judiciary Committee today heard a bill overriding those low-level court decisions.
The bill has six joint-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats. One of them, Anchorage Democrat Les Gara told the committee the measure would specifically define and forbid typing by a driver while the vehicle is moving. Gara said that “typing” includes sending text messages. He told the committee that texting is dangerous – and with the current court decisions in place, the state is saying it is acceptable.
Texting is the new drunk driving. If you text a normal sized text message while you’re driving, You’ll drive the length of a football field before you’re done. You’ll drive the length of a football field of potential victims before you’re done sending your text message.
Committee Chairman Carl Gatto is another sponsor of the bill. He says he sees the danger of delaying action on the subject.
This bill fails, the word goes on the street that texting is okay. We all are expert, from eight to eighty, who are everey good are going to start texting. Because if they were somewhat reluctant to text, once we tell them it’s okay, they’ll do it.
Gara agrees, saying he believes the Supreme Court will eventually overturn the lower court rulings. However, the legal process could take as much as three years. He says it will be better to go ahead and put the law on the books rather than wait that long.
Gatto held the bill, however, saying it will be back up at Friday’s meeting.