Bill would toughen distracted driving laws

Hands-free behind the wheel

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — It's already illegal to text and drive in Maine, but a state senator wants to make the distracted driving laws even tougher.

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, on Thursday went before the Transportation Committee to introduce a bill to require all drivers in Maine to be hands-free when talking on the phone.

"We know people are becoming much more distracted," Sen. Diamond said. "People are still holding their phones punching in numbers and texting people."

Numbers from the state Department of Transportation show there were 386 accidents in Maine last year caused by manually operating an electronic communication device, including texting, typing and dialing.

Thirteen accidents were attributed to talking on a handheld device.

Maine DOT spokesperson Ted Talbot said those numbers may actually be higher because people aren't always honest about their cell phone use while driving.

"We know it goes on," Talbot said. State police tell us it is going on but the reporting of it is a lot lower than what actually happens and that is a trend we have started to see now over the last few years."

Maine State Police and AAA spoke in favor of the bill.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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