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Friday, November 20, 2009

Texting-while-driving ban signed into R.I. law

PROVIDENCE, R.I. _ With the stroke of Governor Carcieri's pen, it is now illegal to text-message while driving in Rhode Island.

Sending, reading or writing a text message, such as an e-mail or instant message, with any kind of data-transmission device while operating a moving motor vehicle would be punishable at the Traffic Tribunal by a fine of $85 on first offense, $100 on second offense and $125 for a third or subsequent offense.

The new law takes effect immediately.

Rhode Island is now the 19th state plus the District of Columbia to prohibit the activity, as concern grows across the nation about the issue of distracted driving. Nine of those states prohibit texting only by novice drivers or in limited circumstances. Six states and D.C. go even further, by prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Rhode Island has not yet crossed that bridge.

"Driver inattention is a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and texting has been one of the most egregious forms of it," said state Department of Transportation director Michael P. Lewis in a statement issued soon after Carcieri signed the legislation into law. It had been introduced in the House by Rep. Peter Kilmartin, and in the Senate by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown.

"This law will help put a driver's eyes back on the road where they should be,'' Lewis said.
RIDOT has plans to alert drivers of this law by running ads, using RIDOT's highway variable message signs, putting information on social media sites and reaching out to universities to let students know about the change.

"While this law helps us save lives, RIDOT is continuing to work toward a primary seat belt law. Doing so would prevent serious injuries and save even more lives while providing Rhode Island an additional $3.7 million in transportation infrastructure and highway safety funds," Lewis said.

Carcieri signed the bill on a busy day, in which he and his staff and legal advisers waded through the vast majority of the 200-plus bills passed during the two-day special session in late October, and transmitted to him last Friday.

According to Legislative Data, a total of 243 bills have been transmitted to the governor so far for him to sign, veto or allow to become law without his signature.

Under its own reading of state law, the governor's office has calculated it has six days from the transmittal of each bill to act or the measure becomes law with his signature. For most bills, that deadline is a day away.

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1 comments:

MELVIN DISLA on November 21, 2009 at 5:09 PM said...

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