Distracted Driving Laws

LFDA Editor

In Brief: 

  • It is illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving in New Hampshire.
  • Drivers may use hands-free phones, devices built into vehicles, or two-way radios.
  • Drivers may use devices if pulled off of the road, but not when stopped temporarily.
  • Pro: Strict laws against the use of mobile devices while driving decrease accidents.
  • Con: Distracted driving laws are too difficult to enforce and point out there is already a negligent driving law on the books.

Issue Facts: 

Starting July 1, 2015, New Hampshire banned hand-held cellphone use while driving.

The law - passed in the 2014 Legislative Session and subsequently signed into law by Gov. Hassan - includes fines of $100 for the first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses within 24-months.

The law permits use of hands-free phones, devices built into the vehicle and two-way radios. It bans all cellphone use by drivers under 18.

There are some exceptions:

  • The law applies while drivers are stopped temporarily (stop signs, red lights, etc), but not if they have pulled over off the road. 
  • Drivers can answer the phone, but not hold it to the ear. 
  • Typing emails, messages or the programming of GPS systems is not permitted. 
  • Emergency calls are permitted for all drivers. 

 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

"New Hampshire was right to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving."

  • Proponents of strict distracted driving laws believe it will decrease accidents.  According to the New Hampshire Safety Administration, 29 percent of fatal accidents in 2010 were caused by distracted drivers.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board recommended a ban on all cell phone use by drivers in 2011.

"Against" Position

"New Hampshire should not ban hand-held cell phone use while driving."

  • Laws prohibiting the use of hand-held mobile devices are too difficult to enforce. 
  • There is already a general distracted driving law on the books. 
 

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Killed in the House

Repeals prohibitions on electronic device usage while driving.

Killed in the House

Limits enforcement of the prohibition on the use of mobile electronic devices while driving to a secondary action when another offense is cited or charged.

Killed in the House

Limits enforcement of the prohibition on the use of mobile electronic devices while driving to a secondary action when another offense is cited or charged or when a driver is involved in an accident.

Killed in the House

Only allows law enforcement officers to enforce the prohibition on the use of mobile elctronic devices while driving if a law enforcement officer sees the driver of a motor vehicle with a device against his or her ear or holding a device in his or her hand and operating the device.

Killed in the House

Exempts GPS devices from the prohibition on the use of mobile electronic devices while driving.

Signed by Governor

Requires the driver's license exam to include questions regarding distracted driving, driving under the influence, and driving during poor weather conditions.

Signed by Governor

Modifies the distracted driving law to allow some use of GPS devices.

Killed in the House

Requires the email and texting capabilities on a phone or tablet be disabled if the device is moving more than 5 miles per hour. Two New England states would need to pass similar laws before HB 103 took effect.

Tabled in the House

Prohibits a driver from holding an animal in his or her lap while driving.

Killed in the House

Limits the prohibition on using a cell phone while driving so the law only applies to drivers under age 18.

Signed by Governor

Forbids cell phone use while driving, unless hands-free.

Killed in the House

Prohibits any cell phone use while driving, unless the phone is hands-free.

Killed in the House

Prohibits any cell phone use by bus and taxi drivers.

Signed by Governor

Prohibits texting while driving.

Was NH right to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving?

FOR
REPRESENTATIVES

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AGAINST
REPRESENTATIVES

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Issue Status

The number of fatal accidents caused by distracted driving dropped from 13 in 2014 to 6 in 2015.

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