Texting While Driving Now Illegal in Alaska

Governor Parnell today (Thursday) put the final touches on a law that legislators thought they had handled four years ago.

With his signature, it is now illegal to send or read a text message while you are driving. Period, no question about it.

Lawmakers thought they had included a ban on texting in a bill that passed in 2008. But last year, several judges around the state disagreed, ruling in individual cases that the law did not cover sending messages over smart phones.Instead of starting what lawyers advised would be a three year process to appeal those decisions, legislators decided to pass a more specific law. It is now illegal to send or read a text message while you are driving.

Haines Republican Bill Thomas was one of six sponsors of the bill.

It was a public safety issue all along.You travel in 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 was another of the sponsors. He says a person who is texting while driving becomes a weapon.

It’s more dangerous than any of the other distractive things you can do short of drunk driving. And 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. 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 immediately and violators risk being charged with a misdemeanor.

ddonaldson (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.586.6948 | About Dave

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