NASHVILLE, TENN. — Tennessee state legislators have introduced two new bills targeting drowsy driving. Senator Doug Jackson introduced legislation that would permit police to charge drowsy drivers with criminal negligence if they injure or kill someone because lack of sleep impaired their driving. Rep. David Sheppard has introduced a companion bill on the House side. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that each year 100,000 police-reported crashes result directly from drowsy driving.
Vermont lawmakers are considering legislation designed to keep drivers free from a range of potential distractions. If passed, the bill would prohibit drivers from eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing a musical instrument, interacting with pets or cargo, and talking on a cell phone or using a PDA. Offenders could be fined up to $600. Legislators in Maryland and Texas are considering similar bills, according to a CBS news report. Connecticut has already passed a law banning any activity that could interfere with a driver’s safe operation of a vehicle.
“Cell phones attracted people to this issue,” Matt Sundeen, a transportation analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told CBS. “Now that people are more focused on distracted driving issues, they’re beginning to talk about the broader range of distractions.”
Why did the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Thomas Koch, decide to include playing musical instruments in the list of banned behind-the-wheel activities? He told reporters that his wife recently saw a driver playing the flute.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, released last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that distracted drivers were involved in nearly eight out of 10 collisions or near crashes.
Source: Automotive Fleet