By Anna Rau
Rep. Mike Mitchell (D-Lewiston) has introduced a bill that
would slap drivers with a $10 fine for inattentive driving
while talking on a cell phone.
"Inattentive driving has become more of a concern, and
an expense to all levels of law enforcement," said the
Mitchell's bill has a long way to go before it ever hits
the floor of the House and the Senate. But if it becomes law,
driving while on the cell phone could cost you.
We've all seen them, the drivers who have one hand on the
wheel, the other on a cell phone, and their mind, somewhere
"Everyday we'll see people make lane changes or you
know do bad things because they can't see side to side or
the head wherever they happen to have the phone." said
Boise Police Sgt. Rich Fuhriman.
So Rep. Mitchell has drafted an inattentive driving bill.
Under his measure, motorists could be fined $10 for using
their cell phone while driving, but only if they are pulled
over for another infraction first. Cell phone use would not
be a primary offense violation.
"A cell phone is a distraction, it causes inattentive
driving, it causes accidents, the records show it," Mitchell
"We see a lot of crashes where inattentive driving was
a factor," Sgt. Fuhriman said.
Sgt. Fuhriman said police see more and more drivers on their
cell phones, but
It's pretty hard to get people to admit that they were
on the phone when they crashed. There really aren't any definitive
studies that say that using a cell phone constitutes inattentive
driving," Sgt. Fuhriman added.
So he says there's really no way to tell at this point if
talking on a cell phone is a big enough factor in crashes,
to draft a bill that punishes drivers for it.
"Im always leery about you know laws that may
not have a basis in fact," Sgt. Fuhriman said.
But Rep. Mitchell believes cell phones are enough of a distraction,
that the bill is necessary. He said it likely will need some
retooling before it goes to the floor for debate.
"We have plenty of time, there's not point in passing
bad legislation or even wasting the time to discuss it. This
is just to raise the issue, let's see where it goes,"
Rep. Mitchell said he's also working with the Department
of Transportation Safety Program to add cell phone etiquette
to its seatbelt use campaign.