2018 Bills

HB 64: Unreasonable Restrictions on Cell Phone Use

This bill failed in the House Transportation Committee.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

In the 2014 general session, a bill sponsored by Senator Steve Urquhart enacted more stringent bans on the use of cell phones while driving. The bill passed despite a fair amount of opposition in both chambers.

A new bill by Representative Carol Spackman Moss is doubling down on this recent change by adding more restrictions on drivers wishing to communicate via cell phone while operating a vehicle.

House Bill 64 would change the law to say that unless a driver is using hands-free technology, he or she may not use a cell phone to initiate or answer a call.

Existing law already says that while a driver may not text, send emails, etc., he or she may use a phone for voice communication — in other words, making or receiving calls. This bill would eliminate that exemption.

The primary concern with this approach is its unreasonableness in targeting one activity over others. For example, drivers are allowed to manually manipulate their air conditioning, seat position, mirrors, stereo system, and more. Why, then, should the law discriminate and legally ban a person from pressing a button to answer a call?

Further, not all voice-activated phones are set up to constantly listen for the user’s voice commands—and those that are allow this option to be disabled to preserve battery live and privacy. In other words, to initiate a voice command, a user would have to press a button on their phone—something prohibited under this proposed legislation.

While we understand and sympathize with the motive of this legislation—reducing accidents and fatalities due to driver distraction—a more comprehensive and fair approach would be better rather than focusing on one activity such as making and receiving calls.