Thanks to the work of RIBike Legislative Chair Barry Schiller, RIBike board member Rep. Teresa Tanzi, and bill co-sponsors Reps. Kathy Fogarty, Lauren Carson, Ray Hull, and Ray Johnston, the Distracted Driving Bill has been introduced in the RI House of Representatives!
This bill has been a priority for the RI Bicycle Coalition for several years now, and a companion bill will be introduced shortly in the RI State Senate. We are thrilled to have the support of a coalition of partners including AAA Northeast and the RI State Police.
The bill, H7168, would make it illegal for a motor vehicle operator to talk on a cellphone while the vehicle is in motion, with the exception of emergency services calls and calls on hands-free devices. Getting caught would incur a civil fine of $100, waived at the first infraction if the violator “provides proof of acquisition of a hands-free accessory subsequent to the violation, but prior to the imposition of a fine.” You can read the full text of the bill here.
Nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured each day in the US in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. 25% of all car crashes in the US involve use of a mobile device, and using your cellphone while driving increases the risk of collision by 300%. Texting raises the risk of a crash by 2300%! These risks are all most acutely experienced by vulnerable road users like bicyclists. Prohibiting this dangerous practice will immediately make Rhode Island a place that is safer to bike and walk in. Stay tuned for opportunities to speak up in support of these bills!