2015 Bills

HB63: Reversing Course on Cell Phones While Driving

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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

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.

Representative Jake Anderegg has introduced House Bill 63 in an attempt to revert the law to the way it was prior to Senator Urquhart’s bill. Among other things, passage of this new legislation would allow drivers to make and receive phone calls or use a GPS navigation application while driving—something that has now been prohibited.

While reverting to the previous law is not ideal—the law needs some revision to be more palatable—it is preferable to the current ban which simply has led many drivers to continue their cell phone activity, but in their laps rather than in their line of sight with the steering wheel and windshield, so as not to be caught by law enforcement officers. This dangerous behavioral change increases the likelihood that an accident will occur.

The current law allows for voice-based interaction with the cell phone while driving, but recent studies have shown that the level of concentration required to control these devices through voice commands is a significant distraction. We favor increasing the penalty for drivers who actually harm or kill another person if it can be proven that they were knowingly distracted (and not just will mobile devices), rather than imposing a general prohibition on people who have not violated anybody’s rights. As such, we support this bill and encourage legislators to go further in reforming the underlying law.