Speliotis sees momentum for handheld cellphone ban for drivers

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/04/27/chair-sees-momentum-behind-bill-banning-handheld-devices-while-driving/

When the House finishes its deliberations on the state budget this week, the Legislature will have 13 weeks left to finish its formal business for the two-year session. A ban on using a hand-held devices while driving appears to be among the select items on the House’s agenda for the final stretch of the session.

“That’s one of the bill’s that is gaining some momentum from members and I think it’s something we’re going to look at,” Rep. Ted Speliotis, chairman of the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, told the News Service. “Clearly that’s something that has some support out there, so I’m sure we’ll look at it after the budget.”

The bill (H 3315) filed by Rep. William Straus would require drivers to use hands-free devices to make a phone call except in cases where the drivers can prove they’re making the call for emergency reasons. The House gave its initial approval of the bill and sent it to Speliotis’s committee on Nov. 17, 2015.

The Committee on Bills in the Third Reading acts as a clearinghouse for legislation before it hits the House floor for debate and a vote. Speliotis said other lawmakers have shared their thoughts on the bill with him, focusing mostly on two main areas of concern.

“There’s been some concerns expressed with older drivers and people who aren’t technologically astute or comfortable, and there’s been expressed some concern by some urban legislators about the costs to people,” he said.

But, overall, “the opposition is far outnumbered by those who have expressed support for the bill,” Speliotis said.

The Senate in January approved a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. If the House passes its own version of a cell phone ban, the differing legislation could be destined for a conference committee.

In 2010, the state passed a law making it illegal to read, type or send electronic messages from behind the wheel, but allowed drivers to continue using cell phones and did not require the use of hands-free devices.

— Written by Colin A. Young

Copyright State House News Service