Thirty-five states have banned texting while driving – and Alaska thought it had too.
But some judges say the law passed in 2008 is not clear, so legislation is on the move that specifically prohibits drivers from reading or typing a text, email or other message while their vehicle is in motion.
A Fairbanks training judge has advised magistrates to refuse cases involving texting while driving, and a Kenai judge has thrown out a case against a driver for texting.
That case is on appeal. Anchorage Democrat Les Gara told the House Transportation Committee today that lawmakers should not wait for a court ruling:
“I think you only really need one fact, and that is according to the National Conference on State Legislators, drivers who text while they drive are 20 times more likely to have an accident than people who don’t text,” Gara said.
Gara says the issue of texting while driving has been taken up by the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“It’s the new drunk driving,” Gara said.
After a brief hearing, House Bill 255 moved out of the transportation committee, bound for judiciary.
The legislation states that texting is illegal while the vehicle is in motion. Gara said reading or sending a text while sitting in a parked vehicle should not be a crime.
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