In an attempt to improve safety on Delaware roadways, a state lawmaker has offered legislation that would prohibit drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel.
Exceptions would be made for emergency calls. Of particular interest to truckers, the bill also would make exceptions for Qualcomm-type devices.
Sponsored by Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, the measure would make it illegal for people to operate a motor vehicle while writing, typing, viewing or sending text messages on a mobile telecommunications device, such as a BlackBerry.
Offenders would face $25 fines. Violations would be a secondary offense – meaning drivers would have to be pulled over for another violation, such as speeding, before they could be ticketed for “texting.”
Attempts nationwide to curb the practice of using the devices while driving have picked up steam in recent months. Advocates for the ban cite a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey that found one in five drivers texting while driving. That number nearly doubles for drivers ages 18 to 27.
If the bill is approved, Delaware would become only the third state – behind New Jersey and Washington – to restrict all drivers from text messaging. Similar efforts are in the works in states that include Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The Delaware bill – HB291 – is in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor