Idaho Senate votes down distracted driving bill

Senate bill 1283 would have beefed up the existing law against texting while driving to cover other ways people are using smart phones.

BOISE- The latest effort to curb distracted driving in Idaho has run out of gas in the state Legislature.

Wednesday the Senate killed a bill that would have beefed up the existing law against texting while driving to cover other ways people are using smart phones.

Senate bill 1283 was voted down 13-22.

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"This is not my first texting and driving bill," said Sen. Marv Hagedorn, who backed the bill. "I've run quite a number of them to try and just bring awareness to the public that people are dying with this and we've got to be smarter about using our smart phones."

Hagedorn's bill would have modernized the current distracted driving law by considering how people are using smart phones. The current law doesn't specifically include things like using apps or typing in an address on GPS while driving.

Hagedorn said his goal was to save lives with the bill.

"We've had a number of accidents," he said. "We have a 28 percent increase of deaths in Idaho just in the last year for distracted driving and the costs are going up in lives and in dollars. We've got to do more than just texting and driving."

But those who opposed this legislation said existing laws are sufficient.

"We already have laws on the books against inattentive driving, reckless driving, title 49 of Idaho code, title 18 addresses these issues," said Sen. Dan Foreman. "I felt it was unnecessary to layer on another law."

Foreman also said the bill could also be seen as overreach of the government. He also believes most Idahoans are smart enough not to create dangerous situations on the roads.

"I support traffic safety. We had good testimony on both sides of the issue. This was one of these issues where what everybody said on one side was true and what everybody said on the other side was true," he said. "You're smart enough to know when not to use your cell phone. As a legislator I don't need to pass a law to tell you what to do."

"I understand the reticence of the people that don't want to put more sideboards on the people that are driving," Hagedorn said. "But when people are dying and it's costing all of us more through insurance premiums, sometimes more sideboards or better defined sideboards are really needed."

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