Bill To Ban Hands-Free Texting While Driving Passes First Hurdle

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

AB 313 (Frazier) will significantly reduce traffic crashes, crash injuries and deaths

Sacramento, CA – A bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) to ban voice-activated, hands-free texting, passed the Assembly Transportation Committee yesterday on a 9-5 vote.  AB 313 is an effort to rescind legislation approved last year that specifically allows hands-free texting while driving as a way to mitigate the ban on hand-held devices while operating a vehicle. However, research suggests that there is little or no difference in the crash risk of drivers using hands-held or voice operated devices because both contribute to the cognitive distraction that causes inattention blindness.

“Legislators respond to the latest information available,” Frazier said. “We know more than we did a year ago regarding distracted driving. It is our obligation to public safety to reverse legislation that was based on good intentions, but is now deemed dangerous. AB 313 will help minimize distracted driving by banning all texting while driving.  It’s just that simple.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified texting and cell phone use as the fastest growing and most visible distraction as an associated factor in collisions.

“Traffic safety experts know that texting while driving – whether hands-free or hand-held – poses a significant increase in crash risk,” said Dr. Richard Harkness, a psychologist, traffic safety expert, and CEO of ADEPT Driver. “Statistically speaking, texting while driving is far more dangerous than driving drunk.  Allowing hands-free texting is a very predictable disaster waiting to happen.”

ADEPT Driver produced a summary of research findings on hands-free texting while driving to all committee members. Studies show that drivers who engage in hands-free texting while driving can have significant cognitive distraction that impairs their ability to recognize safety-critical events by as much as 50 percent and reduces driver response time by 30 percent. So you can look but not immediately ‘see’ important objects like a car slamming on its brakes, a red light, or a pedestrian.

In addition, using hands-free texting devices does not eliminate the need for drivers to take their eyes off the road when checking voice-text transcriptions, since technology frequently fails to accurately transcribe what an individual is saying.  Glance-down times can be anywhere from 2.45 seconds to 4.6 seconds – the equivalent to driving 60 MPH down a football field – blind. With these cumulative risk factors, drivers who voice-text are at least eight times more likely to than a driver who is not texting.

AB 313 is supported by numerous safety groups and law enforcement. The bill is opposed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Global Alliance of Automakers.

To contact Assemblymember Jim Frazier please visit his website at http://www.asmdc.org/members/a11/ or call his District Offices at 707-399-301 or 925-778-5790, or his Capitol Office at 916-319-2011.

CONTACT: Amy Warshauer, Amanda.Warshauer@asm.ca.gov