House Bill 34 goes into effect today in our State of New Hampshire– with our motto of ” Live free or die.”
As a personal injury lawyer, I am interested in any legislation dealing with the operation of a motor vehicle.
In my line of work I see more than my fair share of needless suffering by injury victims.
Some laws are good and sensible, while others are more feel-good and don’t work.
Be that as it may, New Hampshire drivers can no longer legally text message and drive on the roadways, as of today, January 1, 2010.
The law prohibits a driver from writing a text message or using two hands to type or operate an electronic or telecommunications device while driving.
Governor Lynch praised the new law, saying that texting while driving poses a serious danger because drivers need to be attentive at all times.
Opponents of the new law, which carries a fine of $100, contend it is an infringement on liberty, and, at best an inconsistent, feel-good measure.
It is still legal to read, select or enter a name in a wireless communications device to make a phone call.
It is also still legal to use a cell phone while driving.
If the concern is driver distraction, these actions are distracting as well.
There is little difference between typing a name, which is legal, and typing a message, which is illegal.
Talking on a cell phone while driving is distracting, as is reaching for something in the vehicle, turning around to talk with back seat passengers or to yell at youngsters, or tuning the radio.
There are lots of distracting things that take place in a vehicle.
On a personal level, I remember an incident about 15 years ago. I was driving on Route 9 to Concord, New Hampshire for a court hearing. Thinking more about my case than my driving I got a brilliant idea ( I thought), so I reached for a pad of paper on the passenger’s seat to write it down.Taking my eyes off the road, my car went off the road and almost tipped over. I smashed into the guard rail. Fortunately I did not run into anyone else, nor was I injured.
The point is that lives can be changed permanently and irreversibly changed in a second or two. Driver distraction is a real problem. With all our new gadgets things are bound to get worse.
There is a law on the books against driving while distracted.
Some contend the new law against texting is leveled against the youth, because it is mainly younger folks who use text messaging. While I don’t know about that, I am certain that the youth are better and more proficient at text-messaging than older folks.
I doubt the law is youth-oriented because it is still legal to use an iPod while driving.
Scrolling through albums on an iPod has to be even more distracting to the driver, and it is has not been made illegal.
There will always be a tension between individual liberty and public protection.
At least this is law made on the state level, and is not mandated by Washington, federal politicians.
Like most laws, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Best wishes for a happy and safe New Year.
Keep your strength.
ps…………… You might have noticed the hyper-links in this blog, when the other day I was saying I didn’t know how to do them. Thanks to my son, Patrick, who is home on college vacation, I learned how to hyper-link. Thanks Pat!