Texting While Driving Adds Points & Penalties in Maine

Texting While Driving Adds Points & Penalties in Maine

This message is intended for students and adults alike. Please pass it along to your employees and their families.

Twenty two percent of adults responding to a Harris Interactive poll said they admit they have sent and read text messages while driving. Forty nine percent of those under age 35 text while driving. Among teenage drivers, it is the number one distraction.

As of September 28, such activity is now against the law in Maine and punishable by a minimum fine of $100 plus $35 for administrative fees. In addition, drivers will be charged two points on their driving records – a conviction that will increase a violator’s cost of insurance.

LD 736 was introduced by State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor LePage. Though 16 other states still have no law against texting while driving, some have adopted far stiffer penalties than Maine particularly for accidents that cause fatalities.

“We charged Mr. Shaw with negligent homicide,” said Don Linton, Utah’s prosecuting attorney, having caused the death of two adults whose car was bumped into oncoming traffic while Shaw texted on his way to work.

In this stunning film from Utah, the fine for causing a fatality while texting has been increased to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison. That does not account for the tragedy for all involved. This brief but sobering documentary will demonstrate the consequences that could just as easily happen to you, your co-workers and your family.

This other video clip aired on CBS News is a dramatization of the consequences of texting while driving and mirrors statistics that show 80% of accidents and fatalities are related to driving while distracted.

The trend is not encouraging according to a University of North Texas study of traffic fatalities.

  • Only one-third of Americans had a cellphone in 1999. By 2008, 91% of us did.
  • The average monthly volume of text messages was 1 billion in 2002. By 2008, it was 110 billion.

What can you do? Employers should adopt a clear written policy that reflects their views on distracted driving. Parents need to take
similar steps with young drivers as well as model appropriate behavior. Impose consequences for texting while driving. It is far more appealing to suspend privileges (e.g. use of a cell phone, use of a company vehicle or family car) than to suffer the consequences of an accident or fatality.

For more information, the national Governors Highway Safety Association has a brief summary of state-by-state statutes governing cell phone use.

We ask that you pass along these e-mails to your organization as well as to your own customers and vendors. By understanding the scope of the challenge and strategies for changing behaviors, we all can make a contribution in controlling the cost of doing business. Thank you!
Jon Paul
Group Personal Lines

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