Frazier’s Hands-Free Texting Bill Makes National News Today

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Frazier Profile

Here is some neat news today as Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) is making some national headlines with his AB 313 which would ban hands-free voice-activated texting while driving. The bill will be considered by the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, April 8.

Todays headlines come courtesy of  ADEPT Driver, a California company that develops smart driver safety programs like teenSMART and Lifelong Driver, is calling for a legislation from the Assembly Transportation Committee to formally approve AB 313, which would ban all hands-free voice-activated texting while driving.

A quick search has shown mention in the Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Auto World News, and many others.

Here is the official press release from the Company.

ADEPT Driver Calls for Approval of Legislation to Prevent Hands-Free Texting While Driving

ELK GROVE, Calif., April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — ADEPT Driver, a California company that developed driver safety programs teenSMART and Lifelong Driver, is calling on members of the Assembly Transportation Committee to approve AB 313, authored by Assembly member Jim Frazier , which would ban hands-free voice-activated texting while driving. The bill will be considered by the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, April 8.

“Traffic safety experts know that texting while driving – whether hands-free or hand-held – poses a significant increase in crash risk,” said Dr. Richard Harkness , a psychologist, traffic safety expert, and CEO of ADEPT Driver. “Recent research has highlighted the danger associated with hands-free texting while driving because it involves significant cognitive and visual distractions for drivers. We applaud Assembly member Frazier for introducing AB 313 to ban hands-free texting while driving. Distracted Driving Awareness Month is the perfect time for lawmakers on the Assembly Transportation Committee to approve this important bill.”

In 2012, a law was passed in California that made texting while driving illegal, unless the driver was using a hands-free voice-activated device.  AB 313 would improve safety on California roads and highways and reduce distracted driving by banning all texting while driving.

“Statistically speaking, texting while driving is far more dangerous than driving drunk,” said Dr. Harkness. “Allowing hands-free texting is a very predictable disaster waiting to happen.”

ADEPT Driver produced a summary of research findings on hands-free texting while driving. Studies show that drivers who engage in hands-free texting while driving can have significant cognitive distraction that impairs their ability to recognize safety-critical events by as much as 50 percent and reduces driver response time by 30 percent. Research suggests that there is little or no difference in the crash risk of drivers using hands-held or voice operated devices because both contribute to the cognitive distraction that causes inattention blindness. While texting, the part of a driver’s brain that deals with visual awareness shuts down by as much as 40 percent, while brain function that deals with language and critical thought is activated. So you can look but not immediately ‘see’ important objects like a car slamming on its brakes or a stop sign.

Using hands-free texting devices also does not eliminate the need for drivers to take their eyes off the road when checking voice-text transcriptions, posing further crash risk. These cumulative risk factors predispose drivers using hands-free texting devices to at least eight times higher crash risk than a driver who is not texting.

ADEPT Driver also supports Senate Bill 194 which would ban teen drivers from hands-free texting while driving.

Efforts to ban hands-free texting while driving are also supported by the National Safety Council, driver safety organizations, law enforcement organizations, and a number of leading auto insurance companies.

AB 313 will be heard in the California Assembly Transportation Committee next Monday, April 8th.

Contact: Hilary McLean
Phone: 916-441-2917
Email: [email protected]

Here is the Text of the AB313

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 313, as introduced, Frazier. Vehicles: electronic wireless communications devices: prohibitions.

Under existing law, a person is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the person is using an electronic wireless communications device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving. A violation of this provision is an infraction.

This bill would delete the exception to that prohibition for the use, while driving, of an electronic wireless communications device that is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication. The bill would make a related statement of legislative intent regarding distracted driving. By expanding the scope of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Digest Key

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES

Bill Text

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1.

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Approximately 400,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

(b) New research published in 2012 indicates that the increase in cognitive load and decrease in working memory when talking or texting while driving increases crash risk significantly.

(c) Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

(d) Eleven percent of all drivers under 20 years of age involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

(e) A vast majority of research suggests that there is no difference in the crash risk of hand-held or voice-operated devices. Furthermore, no study has determined that texting while driving is safe.

(f) Drivers are four times more likely to crash while talking hands free on a phone, which is the same crash risk as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08.

(g) Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which, at 60 miles per hour, is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind.

(h) Text messaging while driving creates a crash risk of 8 to 23 times that of driving while not distracted.

(i) Nine out of ten drivers support laws that ban texting.

SEC. 2.

Section 23123.5 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

23123.5.

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.

(b) As used in this section “write, send, or read a text-based communication” means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.

(c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call or if a person otherwise activates or deactivates a feature or function on an electronic wireless communications device.

(d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.

(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

SEC. 3.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I thank Jim so much for perusing this but unless the penalty for using a hand held device is not increased to equal Driving Under the Influence DUI, it will not deter distracted driving.

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