NTSB Recommends Cell Phone/Driving Ban
Gives state lawmakers new hope for similar bill in legislature
A state lawmaker who’s been trying to ban texting while driving throughout Alaska has new hope Tuesday for getting the bill passed.
Representative Max Gruenberg says a national report and a local tragedy could change the dynamics in Juneau come January.
The National Transportation Safety Board came out with a recommendation that all states ban the use of mobile devices, including those that can be operated hands-free, except in emergencies.
Gruenberg says he hopes that will be enough to get a proposed state ban moving in the house judiciary committee.
The legislature already has banned text messaging while driving. But the issue got renewed focus last week with the arrest of Ashley Bashore, a 19-year-old Anchorage woman accused of texting prior to a fatal hit-and-run in April.
The NTSB says that talking on a cell phone is also distracted driving that could cost lives, and encouraged states to enact across-the-board bans.
“I would hope that it would have weight,” said Rep. Gruenberg. “Some of these people appear to be dead set against anybody telling them that they can’t be on their cell phone, have it in their hand, while they’re driving, particularly out in the rural areas. So I don’t know it would have any effect on those people at all.”
A bill backed by Gruenberg stalled in the House Judiciary Committee this session. But he says it also took time to institute a mandatory seat belt law and to make it a primary offense, and to allow for ignition interlocks to prevent convicted drunk drivers from re-offending.
House Judiciary Chairman Carl Gatto could not be reached for comment on prospects for the cell phone ban in the next legislative session.