Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Drastic increase in traffic injured people in Stockholm / Bill to ban texting while driving

From: Örjan Hallberg
Date: Sat, Nov 29, 2008 at 11:08 PM

The number of traffic injured people in Stockholm has increased dramatically since people began steering with only the right hand.


Bill to ban texting while driving may be called back


One county legislator’s effort to ban cell phone text messaging while driving has been rebuffed by a legislative committee.

Nontheless, prime sponsor Edward P. Welsh, R-21, Utica, may bring the idea back in 2009.

Ways & Means Committee members split 5-5 Wednesday, one short of the minimum six approvals needed in order for the measure to advance to the full Board of Legislators.

The divided vote represented a turnaround of sorts for the text messaging issue. When the local law proposed by Edward P. Welsh, R-21, Utica, went before the Public Safety and Courts, Laws and Rules committees last week there was no dissent from any of the members.

However, when it went before Ways & Means a week later — a meeting Welsh could not be present at to answer questions — it failed to gain the necessary support.

Welsh said later in the day he’s considering reintroducing the issue next year. Several counties around the state have already enacted such bans.

Welsh said it was not his desire to create a patchwork of local laws to restrict motorists from texting, but to help create a groundswell among counties that would "push the state to do the right thing."

It’s already illegal in New York state to make calls on hand-held cell phones. Oneida County had begun consideration of a ban on drivers using held-held cell phones when New York enacted the statewide ban. Welsh wants to see a similar scenario evolve for text messaging — counties start taking up the issue and New York then steps in and addresses it on a statewide level. A text messaging ban has been talked about in the state Legislature, but no measure has passed both the Senate and Assembly and moved on to the governor for consideration.

The text messaging issue took on state prominence when five high school girls died in a fiery accident south of Rochester in 2007. Cell phone records showed someone was text messaging on the driver’s cell phone when the girls’ SUV passed a car and crashed into a tractor trailer. It’s never been determined who in the car was texting at the time of the crash.