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Montana is only state without driver texting ban

By Lisa Baumann

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana became the only state in the nation that does not ban at least some drivers from texting when a new law took effect in South Carolina this week.

State Department of Transportation Director Mike Tooley said Wednesday that while he believes Montana needs such a ban, the state has never led the charge for new laws regarding highway safety, leaving it to municipalities.

"I am disappointed that once again we're last to take something regarding highway safety seriously," Tooley said, noting the state went without a statewide law on child safety restraints for years.

About a dozen ordinances in Montana cities and two counties ban texting behind the wheel, according to the department.

Driver cellphone usage contributed to 1,614 crashes from 2004 to 2013, Montana Highway Patrol data shows.

Forty-four states, including South Carolina and Washington, D.C., ban texting while driving for all ages, AAA said. A handful of others, such as Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas only outlaw it for young and/or inexperienced drivers and for some bus drivers. In Arizona, cellphone use while driving is only illegal for bus drivers.

Montana lawmakers have proposed legislation banning the use of cellphones while driving in recent years, but those attempts failed to gain traction. As she has in the past, Democratic state Sen. Christine Kaufmann of Helena said she will propose a similar bill during the 2015 legislative session unless another lawmaker wants to take the lead.

"We should be embarrassed," Kauffmann said of the lack of a statewide ban. "It would be good to have consistency across the state. The focus should be on driving, not talking."

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cgrinnerbear June 11 2014 at 10:17 PM

Might be illegal in other states...but so what? The idiots still do it and could care less....need to make fines $1000.00....then it might get less idiots doing it!

Flag Reply +25 rate up
4 replies
are.we.better.off.now June 12 2014 at 1:36 PM

Most people just follow our President's lead -
Just ignore or simply 'pick & choose' which of America's laws they obey.

Flag Reply +23 rate up
8 replies
petpetdon June 12 2014 at 3:51 AM

For a first time offense a fine of $1000 would work. Second offense, $5000 fine and lose your license for a year. Third offense, $10,000 fine and you never drive again, Put some teeth into the laws.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
9 replies
hamcallk5co June 11 2014 at 9:45 PM

I was going to Montana to fish this summer; but that is now cancelled. I've personally seen two accidents from driving while on the 'phone and sure don't want to be around anyone allowed to "text".

Flag Reply +20 rate up
6 replies
Alexis Elizabeth June 12 2014 at 4:34 AM

It is one thing to ban cell phone texting, but if states are truly serious about highway safety and the law, well they also need to be much more aggressive about enforcing that cell phone ban which law enforcement is abit lax on!!

Flag Reply +15 rate up
kpsra June 12 2014 at 9:36 AM

What does it really matter? People do it anyways..schools tell the kids not to text, drivers training tells the kids not to text, parents tell the kids not to text and from what I see..kids still texting, parents still texting, anyone who wants to still text while driving..I suggest you get into an accident and you are on your dam phone make the fine $5000 or more..maybe a few will think twice...

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
drpmindmender June 12 2014 at 7:57 AM

If anyone was REALLY serious about making it illegal to text and drive, there would be a FEDERAL law, MANDATING that EVERY motor vehicle be installed with a cell-signal blocker that is on ONLY when the engine is running. Removing the blocker, disables the engine. Oh, and in case of a GENUINE emergency, there would be a PANIC button that would turn off the blocker, and ONLY and AUTOMATICALLY dial 911.

People were able to drive WITHOUT having a cell phone to use at the same time for a hundred years, thank you very much, and civilization managed to survive just fine.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
jai.hye drpmindmender June 12 2014 at 1:25 PM

"People were able to drive WITHOUT having a cell phone to use at the same time for a hundred years, thank you very much, and civilization managed to survive just fine."

Very well said and so very true.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Disculpame drpmindmender June 12 2014 at 4:50 PM

Some of the telephone companies offer a similar application for a fee. Somehow it senses the wheels rolling and blocks the telephone from operation, either by call or by text. Once the wheels stop rolling, the telephone becomes operational. But I agree, if the government was serious, this needs to be a mandated device on all cell phones to cut down the number of accidents, not an optional paid application.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
vancecline June 12 2014 at 8:31 AM

The cure for this is so simple as to be ridiculous; tie the phone's GPS to speed. After 5 mph the texting feature disconnects. If you're more concerned about PASSENGERS wanting to text than the small inconvenience it may cause they could tie the texting feature to a proximity chip in the driving area. So simple...yet the selfish among us will/would scream their head off.. So what? Seat belts are now mandatory.. Make it happen.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
katona June 12 2014 at 10:40 AM

It's very Simple, In Ohio we take away your license if you are under 18 for just having the phone ON!
I think the officer should take your phone, drop it into a plastic evidence bag and heel stomp it into little pieces.
Then fine you $500.
And yes folks, using it as a GPS, Checking your Email, and everything else you are doing including picking songs is condisered TEXTING!
Buy a hands free for necessary BUSINESS! Not Pleasure, and put both hands on the wheel, Texting and TALKING on the phone has now replaced Drunk Driving as the #1 cause of accidents...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Dr Emilio Lizardo June 12 2014 at 12:35 AM

Here in Iowa , cops don't do any thing about texting and driveing , so people are being killed and run down , O-wait thats when they do something , after the fact.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
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