Distracted Driving

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Massachusetts has joined every other New England state by barring drivers from using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel.

Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law on Monday. It takes effect in 90 days.

The state Senate and the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the measure earlier this month. The law calls for a $100 fine for a first offense.

Public Domain Pictures/ Alex Grichenko

This year, New Hampshire is experiencing a 22 percent increase in traffic fatalities. With the relatively recent introduction of a hands-free driving law, and vehicle safety features increasing every year, it raises the question: What is driving this increase in traffic deaths? We check in with some of the people on the front lines of New Hampshire's highway safety, and ask what we can do to prevent more fatalities on our roads and highways. 

About 1,000 people are injured and nine people are killed each day in the U.S. in crashes involving a distracted driver. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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It's been two years this week since New Hampshire's hands-free driving law banning the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel went into effect.

Major Matt Shapiro of the New Hampshire State Police was one of the leaders behind this law, aimed at getting drivers's eyes away from their phones and on the road.  Speaking on The Exchange, Shapiro says there is clear evidence it's working. 

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Jun 23, 2017
Sadie Colbert; USAF

The start of summer marks the one-hundred deadliest days of driving for teenagers, but young drivers aren't the only high risk people hitting the streets.  It's been two years since the Hands-Free driving law went into effect in New Hampshire, but how much has it improved the safety of our roads? Do we need to go further? 

Why N.H. Roadways Are Becoming Deadlier

Sep 20, 2016
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After decades of improved safety on our roadways, the trend seems to be reversing, with major increases in fatalities around the country and in New Hampshire.  We look at the reasons for the dramatic uptick in traffic deaths, including distracted drivers and cheap gas.  

This program was originally heard on Aug. 31, 2016.

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State data shows that the number of road deaths in New Hampshire fell last year amid the passage of a law in July 2015 barring drivers from having a mobile device in their hand.

The Telegraph of Nashua reports state Department of Safety data shows distracted driving deaths fell to sixth place in 2015 after state police say it ranked as the second- or third-leading cause of road deaths for nearly two decades.

Six of the 103 fatal collisions last year were due to distracted driving. That's 6 percent.

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  New Hampshire's "hands free" driving law has now taken effect. That means those on the road must now put away cellphones, GPS, tablets and any other hand-held voice or data devices, even at stop signs or when stuck in traffic, unless the devices are being operated through a hands-free option, such as a Bluetooth connection. 

Those under age 18 can’t use any devices, even hands-free ones, while driving.  

Two-way radios are still allowed. And calls to 911 or other emergency responders are legal even if they’re not hands-free.

Pat Wellenbach, The Associated Press

On Wednesday, New Hampshire becomes the 15th state to ban the use of hand-held cell phone devices while driving.

But despite months of warnings from state officials, car dealers say they're seeing a rush of drivers coming in last-minute to make sure they're in compliance.

Ron O'Connor Jr. is a service director at Irwin Automotive Group in Laconia.

He joined NHPR's Morning Edition to talk about the impact at his dealership.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

New Hampshire becomes the 15th state to bar drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving when the legislation takes effect next week. 

The new ``hands-free'' law applies to all hand-held devices, including GPS units, tablets and laptops. Current law bans typing and sending text messages while driving but does not prohibit reading text messages, surfing the Internet, dialing cellphones or programming GPS devices. 

Violators face a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses within a 24-month period. 

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

New Hampshire’s Hands Free Law goes into effect in under five days, which will ban drivers from using hand-held electronic devices even at traffic lights or stop signs.

That means no cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPods, etc. unless they are operated by a Bluetooth or other hand free device.

At a press conference Thursday morning, State Police said starting July 1 all officers statewide will be strictly enforcing the law. Those found to abuse the law will be fined $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 after that.

July 1 Cell Phone Driving Ban: What You Need To Know

Jun 11, 2015
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As New Hampshire’s ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving looms, we revisit this effort to curb dangerous inattention behind the wheel. We’ll look at how these laws have affected traffic safety elsewhere, whether they’ve worked, and explain the rules of the road for New Hampshire’s version, to be enforced July first.

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The Senate’s Transportation Committee is considering a bill already passed by the House that would ban the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

Distracted Driving In N.H.

Mar 13, 2014
epSos.de / Flickr Creative Commons

The legislature looks at limits on texting and talking while behind the wheel.  We’re looking at the current bill in New Hampshire, and some of the research and debate on this issue nationally.


Jim Legans, Jr. / Flickr Creative Commons

The use of handheld cell phones while driving would be banned under a bill passed on Wednesday by the House.

New Hampshire would join 12 other states in banning hand-held cell phone use for all drivers.  There would be exceptions for dialing 911.

Bluetooth and other hands-free technology would remain legal, as well as the use of non-cellular 2-way radio.

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a Barnstead man’s conviction for second-degree assault after he veered into the oncoming lane while checking a text message.