"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hands Free of Pay Up

Beginning today, NH becomes the 15th state to implement a hands free law while driving. Specifically:
  • No use of hand-held electronic devices capable of providing voice or data communication while driving or temporarily halted in traffic for a stop sign or traffic signal or other momentary delays
  • This includes cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPods, iPads or other devices that require data entry
  • Emergency calls to 911 or other public safety agencies will be allowed
  • Bluetooth or other hands-free electronic devices will be allowed
  • One hand non-cellular 2-way radio use will be allowed
  • Teen drivers under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use any electronic devices (hand-held or not) except to report an emergency. Anyone violating this will be subject to penalties and license suspension or revocation.

It is the most restrictive law of its kind in the nation. In my mind, the jury is still out as to whether even carrying a conversation with both hands on the wheel is still not distracting enough to cause bad driving decisions. Also, some studies have proven to be inconclusive as to whether these types of bans even reduce distracted driving accidents. Lastly, it may be a challenge to enforce. 
What about music? Changing cd's or switching stations can also be distracting. So can noisy kids. Or dogs. You get the picture. I see the problem ( 116 fatalities in the last 4 years in NH caused by distraction), but does this law really address the root cause probelm?  Perhaps. It is not unreasonable I suppose to pull over and make a phone call or reprogram a GPS. 
 It does surprise me though that in the Live Free or Die state, we now have the most restrictive law.


Eric Taussig said...

While I certainly do not want distracted driving, I am troubled after reading that the police are already using the hand held phone prohibition to stop people and then use the probable cause of phone use to arrest them for other violations, often violating their Fourth Amendment rights.

Anonymous said...

The police are trained to use the slightest reason, such as a light on your vehicle out, to pull you over. They want to run your ID to see if there is a warrant. If they have any suspicions at all, they require the occupants to produce IDs as well. The Supreme Court gave them the ability to frisk people for dangerous items years ago, but, guess what, anything they find is usable in court. That is the real travesty as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is a bit confusing. "Police are trained to use the slightest reason, such as a light on your vehicle out, to pull you over." Believe that police are trained to be familiar with, recognize and respond to the law, and when someone is breaking the law, even inadvertently, the officer is charged with investigating further. Once stopped, such as our state's first offender of the new cell-phone while driving statute, the offender's vehicle was reeking of marihuana, giving the officer the right to investigate further. The driver, in this case, surrendered pot and drug paraphernalia and was arrested. Travesty? Prefer stupidity. If any officer decides to frisk me during a stop, I'm sure that I wouldn't be enthusiastic about it, but I'm certain to be less enthusiastic if I am found to have a weapon, stolen goods, supplies of heroin and other illegal drugs, open liquor bottles etc on my person. When you obey the law, such a stop is an inconvenience that hopefully and ultimately reduces the number of unnecessary lost lives

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on this are I guess you can either believe that the end justifies the means or the framers of our Constitution and Amendments granted us rights which are slowly eroding. Believe it or not, there were criminals 200+ years ago.

Town Hall Junkie said...

They went a little over the top, when they state that you can not touch your phone or GPS when stalled in a traffic jam. Can you say " Police State ? "

Anonymous said...

The entire US population in 1776 was estimated to be 2.5 million as compared to last year's 319 million. Last year 7 million Americans were imprisoned, probation or parole. The framers, anticipating such growth and evolution, built an executive, congress and judicial model in order to respond to impossible to imagine future events. Doubt very much that the out of control heroin trafficking that is ruining New England as I type was on their mind...if speeding, tail light out, expired inspection sticker, whatever...if legitimate stops, however inconvenient for the guilty offender, helps reduce the number of scumbags poisoning our kids, yes...I'm all for it....

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone should challenge the law on First Amendment grounds as speaking, writing, texting and touching a machine are types of speech and expression.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Right or privilege to drive?

Why stop at phones. Challenge licenses! It would be great fun to watch the NH legislature play with that.

"For many years Professionals within the criminal justice System have acted upon the belief that traveling by motor vehicle upon the roadway was a privilege that was gained by a citizen only after approval by their respective state government in the form of the issuance of a permit or license ..."



To hell with car inspections! Damn the street lights. Stop paying road taxes.

After all, what's a few days in the cross-bar motel.

Anonymous said...

I write here because unfortunately I feel this is my only recourse for expressing what I feel is flagrant abusing of authority. Effective July 1, 2015; New Hampshire's Hands-free law took affect. Shortly after and admittedly, I was in violation and was stopped in Moultonborough and Meredith and issued warnings by officers in both communities which explained the new law and let me go with a warning. Taking to the internet, I did my research and purchased a unit that would provide me with good clear audio for both me and my callers. This unit cost about $150, rough the cost of three billable units of work for my business. Since obtaining it I have dutiful about using it and have adjusted just fine. My complaint is since I got my hands-free unit I have seen the Moultonborough Officer; Fulton, who ironically is the one who issued me a warning using a cell phone while driving, not less than five times. To be fair, Moutlonborough police are not the only offenders, I have also seen this in Meredith, Gilford, Sandwich, Tuftonboro and the Carroll County Sheriff. The law http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XXI/265/265-79-c.htm allows for phone usage in the event of an emergency to call 9-1-1 or the police directly, none of the officers I have observed were travelling with light or sirens on. This law needs to be repealed or revised, if nothing else it needs to be applied fairly.