Legislature enacts Diamond bill to ban handheld devices while driving

Posted: July 20, 2017 | Senator Diamond

AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Thursday enacted legislation to ban the use of handheld devices while driving. The bill was enacted unanimously with a voice vote.

Maine law already prohibits texting while driving, but other uses of handheld devices are legal. That discrepancy makes enforcement of the anti-texting law nearly impossible.

The bill — LD 1089, “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving,” sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham — bans the use of handheld devices, except to communicate with law enforcement or emergency responders. It would allow the use of hands-free devices, devices secured to the dashboard, and cellphones set to a hands-free mode.

“This is a huge win for highway safety,” said Sen. Diamond. “Motorists and pedestrians alike will be safer when drivers keep their eyes on the road — not their phones. By minimizing distracted driving, we will reduce the number of crashes and save lives.”

Pat Moody from the American Automobile Association (AAA) testified in favor of the bill earlier this year, saying that the current spike in highway fatalities is directly attributable to cell phone use. Additionally, use of any handheld device quadruples the chance of a traffic accident. The AAA enthusiastically supports the bill.

Sen. Diamond has been an outspoken advocate against distracted driving. He sponsored two bills, both of which signed into law, banning texting while driving and making distracted driving a moving violation.

The bill now goes to Gov. Paul Lepage, who has 10 days to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.