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Rep. Scribner Pushes for Safer Roads, Harsher Consequences for Distracted Drivers

Rep. Scribner is pushing for safer Connecticut roads as he speaks out in favor of a proposal to increase fines for distracted drivers.

Yesterday State Rep. David Scribner (R-107) pushed for safer Connecticut roads as he spoke out in favor of a proposal to increase fines for distracted drivers.

House Bill 5248, which was first introduced by Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151), seeks to increase the fine for a first distracted driving violation from $100 to $150; a second violation from $150 to $300; and a third violation from $200 to $500.

Distracted driving is defined by the illegal use of a mobile telephone or other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

“I think we can all agree that no phone call or text message is worth ending someone’s life,” said Rep. Scribner, the Ranking Member and longest serving leader on the Transportation Committee and Transportation Bonding Subcommittee. “This proposal aims to improve public safety by providing law enforcement officials a stronger mechanism to prevent and address violations.”

He added “In many ways distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving as it draws the driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. We need to take steps to foster a culture of intolerance for distracted driving and an awareness for the sobering dangers it poses to our families.”

The bill was prompted by the tragic death of a Norwalk man who was struck and killed by a driver who was surfing the internet on their smart phone while driving.

The Transportation Committee public hearing began at 10:00am in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford and drew dozens of residents to speak on the measure over the course of several hours. Dept. of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Dept. of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Melody Currey were among state leaders who weighed in on this and other transportation-related proposals.

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Steven DeVaux February 06, 2013 at 12:39 PM
Oh great. In the mean time for the 18th year in a row, Scribner fails to bring home the bacon to Brookfield in terms of state support for education and instead shackles Brookfield's folks who are now discovering it's cheaper to send a child to a private school that to pay taxes for a public one. Scribner isn't interested in safety, he's trying to raise more CASH for the state with higher fines - a form of indirect taxation just like fees.
Mary Davis February 06, 2013 at 01:09 PM
I don't agree with the premise that simply holding a phone means you're distracted. Why is it safe for the police or fire dept personnel to hold a cell phones while driving (exemption in the law)? Its probably the act of talking that really could make it unsafe for certain drivers...and these people were probably lousy drivers to begin with. So for the masses, either talking while driving is unsafe or its not. My holding a phone or not doesn't me safer or unsafer... but thats how the law is written. If talking is the real issue then the law should prohibit talking on the cell phone all together for everyone. hands free or not..and this would just be very unpopular and people would revolt. This is just another example of politicians passing feel-good legislation that doesn't really do anything for safety.
Kevin O'Connor February 06, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Here's the thing, talking on your phone, hand-free or not, does make you distracted. There are studies to prove it. However, the major concern with distracted driving is when you are holding your cellphone. I don't believe for a second that you just drive around with one hand on the wheel and one hand on your cellphone. Either you're looking at the cellphone (and not the road), or you're talking on the cellphone with only one hand on the wheel. So now, by your own admission, you're distracted because you're talking on the phone, but you've also impaired your physical ability to respond by only having one hand on the steering wheel. The issue becomes enforcement, how can a police officer know what you're doing on your cellphone as you pass by? So either you need to ban cellphone use (being held) or all cellphone use. You can't really ban hands-free cause it's very difficult to enforce. Hang up the hands free and the cop can't prove that you weren't just talking to yourself. So no, holding your phone alone doesn't make you distracted, but it does impair you. More often (like all the time), you're distracted as well when holding your cellphone. Plus, don't forget about texting and driving.
Larry Samuel February 06, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Upping the fine is not good enough! More people are killed in car accidents due to driving under the influence and distracted driving then any other weapon. It should be a criminal offense to anyone convicted of distrative driving or under the influence. Hands free technology is so cheap now days that there is NO excuse for holding a phone and there is no excuse for texting and driving under any condition. If anothers life is so little value, $19 for a bluetooth earpiece, you shouldn't be driving. I'm for personal freedom, I don't believe we need a seatbelt mandate. But if we drive wrecklessly and a child is not wearing a seat belt or in car seat and get's hurt or killed the driver should be held accountable. Laws are not suppose to regulate our freedom but provide justice when a individual hurts another. I might make one exception, making a law against the F word. The law should be if you follow through with that word you are punished by castration or death.
Brookfield Resident February 06, 2013 at 08:25 PM
More government over-reach. Representative Scribner has yet to return a single email I have ever sent him. I guess he must represent others.
Rosie O'Grady February 06, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Long over due. My guess is that well over 50% of local accidents are due to cell phone use. I've seen idiots driving faster than 70, while texting.
Brookfield Resident February 06, 2013 at 08:48 PM
In 1988 the total number of automobile accidents was 6,887,000, in 1990 it was 6,471,000, in 1995 it was 6,699,000, in 2000 it was 6,394,000, in 2005 it was 6,159,000, and finally in 2008 it was 5,811,000. It seems the only correlation that exists between the increase in cell phone subscribers and automobile accidents is a downward trend. But maybe "local accidents" have seen a 50% increase....
Rosie O'Grady February 06, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Drivers who talk on either handheld or hands-free cellular phones are as impaired as drunken drivers, according to experimental research conducted by Drs. Frank Drews, David Strayer, and Dennis L. Crouch of the University of Utah. The study reinforced earlier research showing that hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as handheld cell phones “If legislators really want to address driver distraction, then they should consider outlawing cell phone use while driving.” says Dr. Drews. Both handheld and hands-free cell phones impaired driving, with no significant difference in the degree of impairment. That “calls into question driving regulations that prohibited handheld cell phones and permit hands-free cell phones,” the researchers write.
Rosie O'Grady February 06, 2013 at 09:07 PM
The National Safety Council announced Tuesday its new findings that 1.6 million accidents a year are caused by cell phone use – a number that increases by more than a million earlier official estimates, and gives new fodder to a growing, nationwide anti-distracted driving movement. According to the organization, 1.4 million crashes are caused by people talking on the phone while driving. Another 200,000 – at least – are caused by drivers texting behind the wheel. “This number is huge,” says David Teater, senior director of transportation strategic initiatives at the National Safety Council, whose 12-year-old son was killed in a crash caused by a driver on a cell phone. “One out of every four car crashes in the United States is caused by cell phone distraction.”
Spanky Dorise February 06, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Why are only cell phones being targeted? As said in the article, "Distracted driving is defined by the illegal use of a mobile telephone or other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle." Last i checked, anything you eat or drink isn't or at least shouldnt be a cellular or electronic device. A 2009 study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 80% of all traffic accidents are caused by drivers who are eating. I dont see a ban on drive thru's at dunkin or mcdonalds
Rob Gianazza February 06, 2013 at 11:31 PM
I would like to see stiffer penalties for driving un-registered vehicles and driving either without a license or with a suspended license. It seems that too many of the recent reported traffic stops include improperly registered vehicles or improperly licensed drivers.
Wondering February 07, 2013 at 11:54 PM
I don't know about you but I was taught to drive with both hands on the wheel. I have no problem with requiring the police to follow the same rules. They should not be exempted. I would pay for their vehicles to be equipped with the same bluetooth devices that was in the Corolla that I just rented. Should we protect those that protect us?
Wondering February 07, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Those too. But let's not let perfection get in the way of better.

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