A bill died in the Vermont House
that would have prohibited drivers in the state from talking on the phone while
The measure was one of several
highway-safety-related bills that failed to gain passage in the legislative
session that wrapped up this month. None of the bills made it out of committee
in their chamber of origin.
Sponsored by Rep. Betty Nuovo,
D-Middlebury, the cell phone bill would have banned drivers from using handheld
or “hands-free” devices while driving.
The bill – H563 – would have made
it a secondary offense to drive while chatting – meaning a person would have to
be pulled over for another violation, such as speeding, before they could be
ticketed for talking on the phone. Violators would have faced fines ranging
from $25 to $100.
Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the only statewide laws restricting cell phone use in
vehicles. No state prohibits hands-free usage.
The cell-phone restriction bill
wasn’t the only highway safety issue that was brought before lawmakers in Vermont.
Two efforts addressed whether to
adopt a primary law for seat-belt enforcement.
Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor,
introduced a bill – S193 – that would have permitted police to pull over
drivers who are not buckled up.
Currently, police in the state can
issue seat-belt citations to drivers only after stopping a vehicle for another
traffic violation, such as speeding.
A separate bill offered by Sen. Mark Shepard,
R-Bennington, and Sen. Robert Starr, D-Essex/Orleans, would have maintained the
state’s secondary enforcement rule for seat belts.
S263 also would have banned police from setting up roadblocks to
nab drivers who are not belted.
Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex
Junction, introduced commonsense legislation that would have required “vehicle
operators to obey highway markings.”
Specifically, the bill would have
reined in motorists who cross the center of roads with double yellow lines. In Vermont, unless you’re approaching a curve, hill, intersection or rail crossing, it’s legal
The bill – H68 – sought to outlaw
A measure – H788 – from Rep. John
Winters, R-Swanton, would have required the operator of an emergency vehicle
when responding to an emergency to use flashing lights and sirens when
exceeding the speed limit.
The bills can be reintroduced in
the legislative session that begins in January 2007.