Distracted Driving Legislation Cracks Down on Cell Phone Use | Connecting Point | May 16, 2019

Distracted Driving Legislation Cracks Down on Cell Phone Use | Connecting Point | May 16, 2019

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>>YOU SEE ONE EVERY DAY ONE
HAND ON THE WHEEL AND ONE ON THE CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING. NOW THERE’S LEGISLATION IN
MASSACHUSETTS TO ADDRESS THAT. HOUSE MEMBERS YESTERDAY PASSED A
BILL BANNING MOTORISTS FROM USING HANDHELD CELL PHONES AND
ELECTRONIC DEVICES WHILE DRIVING AND THE SENATE IS SLATED TO TAKE
UP ITS OWN VERSION OF THE BILL NEXT MONTH. CARRIE SALDO SAT DOWN WITH JEFF
LARSON THE DIRECTOR OF THE HIGHWAY SAFETY DIVISION OF THE
MASSACHUSETTS EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY TO
DISCUSS HOW TO KEEP PEOPLE SAFE ON THE ROADS.>>GOVERNOR BAKER HAS A COUPLE
OF OMNIBUS BILLS OUT ON THE LEGISLATURE RIGHT NOW. ONE BILLS INCLUDES A HANDS-FREE
REQUIREMENT FOR CELL PHONES AND INCLUDES A PRIMARY SEATBELT BILL
AND AN INTERLOCK WHICH WOULD REQUIRE FIRST TIME OFFENDERS FOR
IMPAIRED DRIVING TO BLOW INTO A UNIT TO START YOUR CAR, TO MAKE
SURE WE KEEP IMPAIRED DRIVERS OFF THE ROAD AND THEN THERE’S
SOME WORK ZONE SAFETY BILLS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT. AND THEN THERE’S ANOTHER BILL
THAT HE HAS THAT IS MORE ABOUT SORT OF MARIJUANA REQUIREMENTS
WHICH WOULD BE — AN IMPLIED CONSENT EQUIVALENT. FOR ALCOHOL IF YOU’RE PULLED
OVER YOU COULD LOSE YOUR LICENSE IF YOU DON’T TAKE A BREATHALYZER
THERE’S NO REQUIREMENT FOR MARIJUANA. THERE’S NO COURTS IN LINE FOR
THE NEEDS OF MARIJUANA IN THE STATE RIGHT NOW.>>AT THE CURRENT TIME HOW DO
POLICE CHECK, FOR EXAMPLE, IF SOMEBODY IS PULLED OVER AND THEY
MR. SECRETARY THEY’D BEEN
SMOKING MARIJUANA AND ARE POTENTIALLY IMPAIRED.>>WELL, THEY GO THROUGH THE
NORMAL STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS THAT THEY DO FOR
ALCOHOL. IF THEY BLOW A ZERO OR SOMETHING
BELOW AN .08 THEY CAN CALL IN A DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERT WHICH IS
A PERSON WHO CAN GO THROUGH A 12-STEP PROCESS WITH WHOEVER IT
IS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND DO A MORE IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION
AS TO WHAT THAT PERSON IS ON AND WHAT LEVEL OF IMPAIRMENT IT IS.>>SO THE SENATE ALSO HAS A BILL
AS FAR AS HANDS-FREE CELL PHONES IN THE CAR. IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE,
YOU KNOW, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT’S NECESSARY KNOWING THAT
TEXTING IS ALSO — IS ALREADY BANNED?>>IT’S IMPORTANT. THE CHALLENGE FOR THE TEXTING
BAN RIGHT NOW THEY DON’T HAVE THE ABILITY TO ENFORCE IT. THERE’S NO VISUAL CUE SO THE
HANDS-FREE REQUIREMENT DOES A COUPLE OF THINGS. IT GIVES POLICE THAT GREATER
ABILITY TO ENFORCE THE LAW. BUT IT ALSO TELLS PEOPLE A
LITTLE MORE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO SHOULD BE DOING. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HAVING THAT
PHONE IN YOUR PHONE IN YOUR HAND WHILE DRIVING. IT HELPS TO JUST TELL PEOPLE,
AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT IN YOUR HAND YOU’RE LESS LIKELY TO BE
PLAYING AND FIDDLING WITH IT. THE PROBLEM WITH THE TEXTING LAW
WHEN YOU THINK IT WAS PASSED WHICH WAS 2009, NOBODY HAD CELL
PHONES. I MEAN, NOBODY HAD SMART PHONES
OR VERY FEW PEOPLE DID. I MEAN, SINCE THAT LAW PASSED,
SINCE THE TEXTING LAW PASSED AT THE TIME WE WERE ALL USING THOSE
PUSH-BUTTON PHONES. NOW 90% OF THE TIME WE SPEND ON
OUR PHONE ARE IN APPS. IT’S NOT TEXTING. IT’S PLAYING WORDS WITH FRIENDS,
BEING FACEBOOK OR ANY OTHER –>>AS YOU’RE DRIVING.>>AS YOU’RE DRIVING.>>IS THIS WHAT YOU’RE HEARING
FROM POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE PULLING PEOPLE OVER.>>YEAH, THEY’RE NOT TEXTING
THEY’RE ON TWITTER AND POSTING ON INSTAGRAM AND DOING OTHER
THINGS. THAT’S NOT TEXTING AND THAT
IS — THOSE ARE TECHNOLOGIES THAT DIDN’T EXIST WHEN THE
TEXTING BAN WAS PASSED.>>AND NOW THAT WE HAVE ALL THE
TECHNOLOGY, YOU KNOW, AND VOICE RECOGNITION AND EVERYTHING — I
MEAN, IT WOULD BE PRETTY — IT WOULD SEEM LIKE IT WOULD BE
PRETTY EASY FOR PEOPLE TO TRANSITION INTO THIS. I KNOW NEW YORK AND CONNECTICUT
HAD SIMILAR LAWS FOR A LONG TIME. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AS FAR AS
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THEIR STATES?>>WELL, SO LET’S BE CLEAR. IF YOU LEAVE MASSACHUSETTS AS A
DRIVER, WE ARE SURROUNDED BY STATES THAT ARE HANDS-FREE SO IF
YOU’RE LEAVING THE STATE YOU HAVE TO GO HANDS-FREE, AND WHAT
IS BEING SEEN IS THAT POLICE HAVE THE ABILITY TO BE ABLE TO
ENFORCE THE LAW MORE SUFFICIENTLY AND INITIALLY THE
NUMBERS ARE COMING IN THAT CRASH RATES ARE GOING DOWN. GEORGIA PASSED A HANDS-FREE
REQUIREMENT AND AT LEAST THE PRELIMINARY NUMBERS THAT THEY’RE
LOOKING AT IS SHOWING A DECLINE IN CRASHES THERE.>>I KNOW THERE WAS SOME CONCERN
ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING. JUST IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN THAT
TO US AS WELL.>>WELL, SO RACIAL PROFILING HAS
BEEN DISCUSSED IN A NUMBER OF CASES FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY LAWS. IT’S LONG BEEN ONE OF THOSE
THINGS THAT’S COME UP FOR THE PRIMARY SEATBELT BILL WHERE
THERE’S CONCERN THAT POLICE WILL USE THESE EITHER HANDS-FREE OR A
SEATBELT LAW TO PULL FOLKS OVER. THERE HAS BEEN RESEARCH IN OTHER
STATES THAT SHOW THAT WHEN YOU GO FROM EITHER A SECONDARY TO A
PRIMARY LAW FOR SEATBELTS OR FROM ONTO A HANDS-FREE PHONE IT
DOESN’T REALLY AFFECT THE INSTANCES OF RACIAL PROFILING
BUT IT’S A CONCERN, AND A VALID CONCERN THAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE
ADDRESSED.>>SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY IT’S
ONE MORE REGULATION AND ONE MORE THING THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH
AS FAR AS, YOU KNOW, FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUT WHAT WOULD BE
YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?>>WE LOSE 400 PEOPLE ON OUR
ROADS EVERY YEAR. IN THE COUNTRY WE LOSE 400,000
PEOPLE ON THE ROADS EVERY YEAR. THE MOST DANGEROUS THING WE DO
ANY DAY, YOU AND I AND EVERYBODY WHO’S WATCHING — THE — IT’S
DRIVING AND THESE TECHNOLOGIES THAT WE HAVE IN OUR HANDS, IN
OUR HANDS ARE TAKING US AWAY FROM WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING
WHICH IS PAYING ATTENTION TO THE ROADS IN FRONT OF US AND IT’S
DANGEROUS AND PEOPLE ARE DYING AND THEY’RE DYING AT A MUCH
HIGHER RATE BECAUSE OF THESE DISTRACTIONS AND I THINK IT’S
IMPORTANT FOR US TO CONSIDER WHAT WE’RE DOING WHEN WE’RE
BEHIND THE WHEEL AND PAYING ATTENTION IS CRITICAL. WE’RE JUST NOT DOING IT AS MUCH
AS WE USED TO.>>AND I KNOW THE GOVERNOR HAD A
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT, YOU KNOW, DON’T BE THAT GUY TALKING
ABOUT THE PERSON WHO’S REALLY GREAT AND DOES EVERYTHING IN THE
COMMUNITY, GOOD FATHER, YOU KNOW, GOOD HUSBAND BUT IT COULD
HAPPEN TO ANYBODY, ARE CANCELLED, AND I THINK THAT’S
REALLY WHERE THE TRAGEDY COMES. REALLY GOOD PEOPLE AND HALF A
SECOND AND YOU TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE ROAD.>>THAT’S REALLY WHAT IT IS. I MEAN, I’VE SPENT DECADES NOW
OF MY LIFE TRYING TO GET PEOPLE PAYING ATTENTION BEHIND THE
WHEEL. WHETHER IT’S HANDS-FREE OR NOT
SPEEDING JUST PAYING ATTENTION IN GENERAL BUT WHAT WE’RE NOT
DOING ANYMORE IS TAKING THAT TASK SERIOUSLY WHICH IS TO —
WHEN YOU’RE BEHIND THE WHEEL, YOUR JOB, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO
YOURSELF AND TO YOUR FAMILY AND TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU OUT THERE
ON THE ROAD IS TO DRIVE AND BE SAFE AND WE’RE NOT TAKING IT AS
SERIOUSLY AS, I THINK, WE USED TO.>>CAN YOU BRING US UP-TO-DATE
WHAT’S NEXT. DO YOU THINK THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT’S GOING TO PASS THIS SESSION?>>WELL, I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S
GOING TO PASS. IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE’S GOOD
MOMENTUM BEHIND IT. I THINK THAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO
COME UP ONTO THE DOCKET LAST WEEK AND I THINK IT’S BEEN
DELAYED BECAUSE OF SOME BUDGETARY THINGS. MY UNDERSTANDING IS IT’S GOING
TO GET A VOTE. IT SOUNDS LIKE THE SENATE
PRESIDENT IS MOVING IT FORWARD AS IS THE LEADER OF THE HOUSE. SO THE HANDS-FREE SOUNDS LIKE
IT’S GOT SOME MOMENTUM BEHIND IT RIGHT NOW.>>BUT IT PASSED THE SENATE
TWICE BEFORE. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HOLDUP?>>I KNOW THE RACIAL PROFILING
PIECE HAS BEEN SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN QUESTIONED AND
SOMETHING THAT, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, IT’S AN IMPORTANT TOPIC AS
SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE UNDERSTOOD AND DEALT WITH. I DON’T KNOW THAT IT NEEDS TO BE
BUNDLED TOGETHER WITH THE HANDS-FREE OR THE PRIMARY
SEATBELT COMPONENT OF IT BUT IT DOES NEED TO BE DONE.

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