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Delaware Law Restricts Cell Phone Use

July 07, 2010

WILMINGTON, DE - Delaware on July 6 became just the eighth state to restrict cell phone use while driving, when Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation requiring motorists to use a hands-free device while operating a vehicle.
Sponsored by Rep. Darryl M. Scott, the legislation (House Substitute 1 for House Bill 229) goes into effect 180 days from signature -- Jan. 2, 2011. The statewide restriction requires drivers to use a hands-free device to talk while driving and also prohibits text messaging, sending or reading e-mails and browsing Web sites while the vehicle is in motion. Delaware also becomes the 30th state to prohibit texting while driving with the signing of this law.
"This new law is about improving safety for everyone who shares the road," Markell said. "We hope we can reduce the number of drivers who text and e-mail while driving, and therefore, reduce the number of distraction-related crashes. Just as we're keeping our focus as a state on creating more jobs, we want drivers keeping their focus on the road."

The bill allows a driver to use a headset, speaker phone or other hands-free device to talk on a cell phone while driving. It also permits a driver to punch in a number or activate the hands-free device, but the driver must then put the phone down while talking. Rep. Scott said that the new law takes the phone out of the driver's hands, eliminating a major distraction.
"Cell phones are a wonderful and convenient tool, but when used while driving, they present a persistent distraction. Removing the device from the driver's hand returns the hand to the wheel and the driver's attention to the roadways," said Scott (D-Dover). "This is an important first step in making our roads safer. Putting restrictions in place that will reduce cell phone usage while driving helps curb distracted driving."
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Brian J. Bushweller and Karen E. Peterson.

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Patsy Brownson is a fleet professional who retired from Cox Enterprises, Inc. in 2008.

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