N.H. Lawmaker Seeks Ban on Texting While Driving

October 31, 2007

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants the Legislature to send drivers a clear message: stop sending text messages while driving!

Nashua Democrat David Campbell has filed the paperwork for a bill to ban two-handed texting or typing on any electronic or telecommunications device while driving. He said a police officer told him cell phone texting isn’t the only problem. Some drivers are typing on laptop computers while behind the wheel.

Campbell’s proposal would only ban two-handed typing or texting.

“You need at least one hand to operate a motor vehicle,” Campbell told the New Hampshire Sunday News.

Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney says he’d go for an outright ban on text messaging while driving. One hand or two, he says texting is dangerous.

“It takes someone’s attention away from the road for those precious seconds that can mean the difference between life and death,” he said.

New Hampshire already has a law banning negligent driving that covers any driving behavior that could endanger people or property. But the Legislature has resisted putting specific restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving.

State Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, has sponsored measures to ban using cell phones while driving, but each has been defeated. She believes Campbell’s measure has a better chance.

“We have enough accidents with teenagers without the additional distraction of texting on the cell phone,” she said.

Cell phones or texting have been linked to several fatal crashes around the country, including a fiery crash that left five cheerleaders dead in upstate New York in June. Police said text messages were sent to and from the 17-year-old driver’s cell phone seconds before her vehicle crossed into the opposite lane and hit a tractor-trailer.

Last February, police in California said a 28-year-old man apparently was using his laptop computer when his car crossed into oncoming traffic, killing him.

Peter Thomson, the coordinator of the New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency, plans to bring the issue to his Traffic Safety Commission, and to the next meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association’s executive board, on which he represents New England.

Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency also favors banning texting while driving.

Morency, president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, said he plans to discuss the proposal at the group’s December meeting, and expects many members will share his view.


Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader,

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