An effort in the New Hampshire statehouse is intended to curb drivers’ text messaging in the state.
Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, has filed paperwork for a bill that would ban drivers from using both hands to read, type or send text messages on an electronic wireless device, such as a BlackBerry. Campbell’s prepared paperwork appears to include all drivers, both motorists and commercial drivers.
It also would ban playing video games while driving.
Hands-free devices wouldn’t be included in the ban.
Attempts to rein in the practice of using electronic wireless devices while driving have picked up steam following the release of a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey that found one in five drivers texting while driving. That number nearly doubles for drivers aged 18 to 27.
New Hampshire law already prohibits negligent driving. The ban covers any driving behavior that could result in injury to others or property damage. However, it doesn’t specifically address the use of cell phones while at the wheel.
If approved, New Hampshire would become only the second state to restrict text messaging while driving. Washington passed a bill in the spring after numerous wrecks involving drivers who had been text-messaging at the time. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2008.
The effort in New Hampshire can be considered by lawmakers during the regular session that begins in January.
To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire in 2007, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor