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Vermont Bill Seeks to Curb Driver Distractions

March 01, 2007

MONTPELIER, Va. --- Vermont lawmakers are considering legislation designed to keep drivers free from a range of potential distractions. If passed, the bill would prohibit drivers from eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing a musical instrument, interacting with pets or cargo, and talking on a cell phone or using a PDA. Offenders could be fined up to $600. Legislators in Maryland and Texas are considering similar bills, according to a CBS news report. Connecticut has already passed a law banning any activity that could interfere with a driver's safe operation of a vehicle."Cell phones attracted people to this issue," Matt Sundeen, a transportation analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told CBS. "Now that people are more focused on distracted driving issues, they're beginning to talk about the broader range of distractions."Why did the bill's sponsor, Rep. Thomas Koch, decide to include playing musical instruments in the list of banned behind-the-wheel activities? He told reporters that his wife recently saw a driver playing the flute.A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, released last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that distracted drivers were involved in nearly eight out of 10 collisions or near crashes.
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