We told you earlier that state lawmakers are considering legislation that would outlaw texting while driving and/or cell phone use while driving. This week, state senators heard testimony about the pros and cons of such laws.
Shirley Breeden, a Democratic senator from Las Vegas, is the sponsor of SB-140, which would outlaw the use of all handheld portable electronic devices while driving in Nevada. A total of 30 states already have similar laws on the books. The Nevada Highway Patrol reported that 10 fatalities and over 1,200 injuries were caused by distracted drivers, which includes those who were using cell phones.
Victims of auto accidents involving cell phone use while driving testified before the state Senate. The parents of 18-year old car accident victim Hillary LaVoie also appeared before lawmakers, saying that their daughter would be alive today if the driver of the car she was riding in was not texting and posting messages on Facebook with a cell phone. Also, 27-year old Jennifer Watkins told senators how she went through six surgeries to repair the multiple injuries she suffered in a 2004 auto accident caused by a driver who was allegedly using a cell phone.
SB 140 would not apply to police, fire personnel, ambulance drivers, and similar first responders. A representative of the Nevada Motor Transfer Association requested that truck drivers using CB radios also be exempted from the law. One public defender expressed concerns that the law would lead to police pulling over drivers for no other reason than for glancing at a cell phone – which could open the door to racial profiling and other questionable practices.
If passed by both the Nevada Assembly and Senate and signed into law by the governor, SB 140 could take effect later this year.