Anti-texting Bill is Now the Law!



Anti-texting Bill is Now the Law!

anti-textingAs has been reported, the anti-texting -while-driving issue we had previously noted is now the law.  On November 4th, the Governor signed S204B which the Assembly passed last month after amending it so that the fines for violations would be $85, $100, $125 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd offenses respectively.

We know that enforcement is an issue, but the force of law does influence behavior over time as in seat-belt use. Parents can instruct their kids not to text while driving with more authority!

The issue of distracted driving will continue at the Assembly as some would like to ban all use of hands-on cell phones while driving.  I expect the Bike Coalition will review any such bills. While all road users could be at risk from distracted driving, bicyclists and pedestrians, as more vulnerable users, are especially at risk.  This is brought home by a page 1 story in the 11/12 South County Independent where in South Kingstown a pedestrian was struck (but fortunately is recovering) by a motorist who told police she was using her Blackberry,  didn’t even know she struck someone and left the scene.  Interesting that though the local police initially filed charges, they were later taken back pending what the Attorney General wants to do.  We’ll see.

At any rate, I think the anti-texting bill is a good step forward and (in the name of the Greenways Alliance that formally endorsed the bill) I will thank the sponsor (Sue Sosnowski) and other leaders who ensured its passage.


  • Nov 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    It's about time! Actually, what's more disturbing is that people need a law to tell them it's not safe to operate a motor vehicle while texting.

    Don't forget another local case we reported almost two years ago, where another driver killed a teen on a bicycle. This man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

    It will be interesting to see whether the RI AG files charges of any sort. If the past is any indication of the future, he won't and another motorist will get away with a crime.

  • Nov 14, 2009 at 6:09 am

    While your texting along the highway, why not get off it altogether to visit our show, like 500 others from all over New England.

    People we've missed so far at Procycle 2009 Art, the region's first all media celebration of bicycling culture:

    City of Providence, NBW, Pawtucket City Government, Providence Bicycling Coalition, RIDOT, State of RI. You have to wonder if they are really serious about supporting cycling if they don't come to a free show with free parking and bike friendly accommodations. Read the Phoenix review linked from our blog:

  • Nov 14, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I agree it is dumbfounding that we even need such a low, but yay!

  • Nov 16, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Just read over the Projo writeup of this issue and thought crossed my mind. As Barry points out and the Projo article does as well:

    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.

    … and what happens after the third offense? Does the person actually loose their license? If it's left up to the traffic courts, probably not.

  • Bill Lewis
    Nov 18, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Does anyone know what happened to the three foot passing bill? I spoke with Rep. Martin and it passed the house but he didn't know about the senate or if Gov. signed it. Thanks.

  • barry
    Nov 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    The "3 foot passing bill" noted above, H5074, was amended so that instead of 3 ft it was a distance needed to keep from hitting a bicyclsit that fell over. It passed the House 6/27, was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee (chaired by Warwick Senator McCaffrey) but never had a hearing, so the bill died.

    If the bike community wants to see some sort of safe passing bill (or any other bike-related bill) passed in the next session, we would have to try to agree on what we wanted and find a sponsor, who would have to introduce it by about mid-February 2010, so there isn't a lot of time. The PBC/GARI coalition has formed a legislative committee to work on this. Please let me know, ( if you would like to be involved with this.

  • Nov 21, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I don't care about a 3 foot bill. Who drives around with a yardstick? It's unenforceable.

    I'm very interested in laws designed to reinforce the fact that "driving is a privilege not a right". It should be harder to get and keep a drivers license. Suspension and revocation ought to be mandated for scofflaws and substance abusers, jail time for chronic offenders and driving without a license.

    Unfortunately, this idiotic propensity of putting traffic controls everywhere, like a blizzard of sign pollution, turns everyone into scofflaws. Police routinely issue warnings instead of tickets, since not even they can obey so many restrictions.

    Motoring has long since become expensively inconvenient, too slow, and unpleasantly tedious. As people smartly boycott motoring, those remaining abuse their privilege all the more. It's been proven that motoring inevitably leads to sociopathic behavior. When you insulate yourself from the communities you pass through, you cease to care about them and those who live there.