Governor Sean Parnell today (Thursday) signed into law a bill explicitly banning text messaging while driving.
Lawmakers thought they handled the issue four years ago. But last year some judges in the state ruled the law did not cover sending messages over smart phones. The legislature’s legal advisors said it would take at least three years to appeal the decisions. So, legislators decided to make the law more specific.
Haines Republican Bill Thomas was one of six sponsors of the bill.
“It was a public safety issue all along,” Thomas says. “You travel six seconds while you’re texting. It’s about the length of a football field. And you know you could drive off the road, hit another vehicle or something else. The idea is to concentrate on your driving and not texting.”
Anchorage Democrat Les Gara says texting is as dangerous as any other distraction to drivers, and some experts say it compares to driving drunk.
“Actually, while you’re typing a text, there is one study that says it’s more dangerous than drunk driving – your reaction time is slower,” says Gara. “We wanted to make certain that people knew that it was illegal, that it’s not okay even though people think it’s a social thing, it’s very dangerous. You can kill somebody doing this.”
The bill goes into effect Friday. Violators risk being charged with a misdemeanor.
- The series of simulated drills was known as the Arctic Chinook exercise and wrapped Thursday morning in Kotzebue, according to a Coast Guard press release.
- Scientists are trying to learn how to prevent botulism in seal oil, a main ingredient in many traditional Alaska Native foods.
- Alaska's earthquake simulator will visit Wednesday, Aug. 31, to Thursday, Sept. 1, in downtown Juneau giving residents some emergency preparedness practice at an event that promises to shake, rattle and roll.
- The creator of the Facebook page the Juneau Community Collective is running for public office and that created a problem. He had to figure out how to continue moderating political comments on the page without falling into a conflict of interest.