Text messaging bill advances
March 27, 2009
CARSON CITY ” A bill to prohibit motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from text-messaging on cell phones while behind the wheel won committee approval Friday and now moves to the full Nevada Senate.
Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee members voted unanimously to pass SB136, which would ban drivers from writing, sending or reading a text message while operating a vehicle.
The bill doesn’t ban reading a telephone number or contact entry on a cell phone if making or receiving a call.
“We need to make our roads safer,” Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, the bill’s primary author, said in urging the committee to endorse the bill.
After the bill’s original wording was criticized as too broad, it was amended to limit the ban on text-messaging to when a vehicle “is in motion or stopped at an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control signal.”
Under the measure, violators would be fined $20 for a first offense, $50 for a second and $100 for each one thereafter. The citations wouldn’t count as moving violations.
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Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, voted for the bill to move it out of committee but said she may not be able to vote for it on the Senate floor because police and emergency personnel aren’t exempted.
Breeden said police and emergency personnel didn’t need the exemption because they already have electronic devices other than cell phones that enable them to maintain necessary on-the-job communications. She also said that she discussed her proposal in advance with law enforcement representatives.
There have been several well-publicized accidents in recent years that have been blamed on drivers texting, including a crash that killed five teenage girls in western New York in 2007.
A study released in September by the British Royal Automobile Foundation concluded that texting while driving was more distracting than being drunk or high on marijuana.
Nineteen percent of motorists who took part in a survey conducted in 2008 for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. acknowledged texting while driving. Vlingo Corp., a Massachusetts company that makes voice-activated devices for cell phones, said 28 percent of consumers who took part in a survey it had done in 2008 acknowledged texting while behind the wheel.