BY: Citizens Count
Next year, the New Hampshire Legislature will consider a bill to loosen rules on cell phone use while driving a car.
HB 1270 would allow motorists to handle their cell phones while stopped at a traffic light.
New Hampshire's hands-free law
New Hampshire’s hands-free law, RSA 265:79-c, was passed in 2014 and went into effect July 1, 2015. The law prohibits a driver of a motor vehicle from using any hand-held electronic device while driving or while halted in traffic for a momentary delay.
There are exceptions for anyone making a 911 call, using a 2-way radio, or using a Bluetooth-enabled or other hands-free device. Anyone violating the general rule will be guilty of a criminal violation and be charged a fine. Everyone under 18 is prohibited from using any mobile device when driving, whether hands-free or not, except to report an emergency.
An exception for traffic lights?
HB 1270 would amend the law to exempt cell phone use while "temporarily halted in traffic ... as a result of a traffic control device."
Proponents say this is a reasonable accommodation for using a cell phone because the vehicle is stopped, lessening the distraction that occurs if someone tries to check a phone while moving.
Opponents say the current law isn’t being enforced enough as it is and that adding an exemption for a stop light adds another layer of distraction in a situation where drivers should be paying attention to the flow of traffic.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose a less stringent distracted driving law? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.