AAA: Let’s Talk Distracted Driving Again Next Legislative Session

Legislators are encouraged to keep traffic safety discussions going after S1283 dies

BOISE – (March 28, 2018) – In calling attention to National Distracted Driving Awareness month in April, AAA asks Idaho legislators to continue to work with stakeholders to improve safety. In 2016, ten people were killed every day in distracted driving crashes on U.S. roads, resulting in a total of 37,000 fatalities.  Meanwhile, here in the Gem State, distracted driving was a factor in 20 percent of all motor vehicle crashes at a combined cost of $1.1 billion, and 64 people were fatally injured.

This year, legislators considered Senate Bill 1283, legislation intended to reduce distracted driving behavior in Idaho. The bill would have made it an infraction for drivers to use hand-held electronic devices while the vehicle is in motion.  S1283 would have also prohibited motorists from covering both ears with headphones or ear pieces to allow greater responsiveness to emergency vehicles and the horns of fellow drivers.

The bill was introduced by the Property and Casualty Insurance Association, and received the full support of AAA Idaho. Although S1283 cleared the Senate Transportation committee with a “Do Pass” recommendation, after much debate, the bill didn’t pass the Senate.

“This legislation got the distracted driving conversation going again,” says AAA Idaho Public & Government Affairs Director Matthew Conde. “Idaho’s current texting law couldn’t have envisioned the relationship many people now have with their mobile devices.  Some watch videos and engage in social media while they’re behind the wheel, with deadly consequences.  AAA would like the progress made this year to serve as a starting point for the next legislative session.”

While hands-free communication is an improvement over current law, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s recent research shows that hands-free does not equal “brain-free.” In addition:

  • Drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of a crash
  • Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash

“Never use text-messaging, email, social media, or video game functions of any kind while driving. Designate a passenger to answer calls and reply to important texts and emails,” Conde said.  “Drivers should never engage in distracting behavior – their first and only job is to drive safely.”