But some judges say the law passed in 2008 is not clear, so legislation is on the move that specifically prohibits drivers from reading or typing a text, email or other message while their vehicle is in motion.
A Fairbanks judge has advised magistrates to refuse texting cases and a Kenai judge has thrown out a case against a driver for texting.
That case is on appeal. Anchorage Democrat Les Gara told the House Transportation Committee Thursday that lawmakers should not wait for a court ruling before fixing the statute.
“I think you only really need one fact and that is, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures, drivers who text while they drive are 20 times more likely to have an accident than people who don’t text,” Gara said.
Calling it “the new drunk driving,” he says texting while driving has been taken up by the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
House Bill 255 moved out of the transportation committee Thursday, heading for judiciary.
The legislation states that texting is illegal while the vehicle is underway. Gara said reading or sending a text while parked should not be a crime.
- Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg heard oral arguments in a lawsuit on the issue. He said he’ll try to reach a decision as quickly as he can.
- Walker said he has spoken several times with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose vote could help determine the bill’s fate.
- State transportation crews are removing political campaign signs along state rights-of-way. Alaska law largely forbids signs anywhere visible from the roadway.
- The University of Alaska is offering up 400 acres of its Haines-area land for timber harvest. The timing of the university’s decision was motivated by a conversation happening at the local level. The Haines Planning Commission is considering whether to restrict resource extraction in the Mud Bay area.