Jun 15, 2015 6:40 PM

Will new hands-free law make NH roads any safer? Critics say no

NH1 News

Big changes are on the way for drivers who use their cellphones behind the wheel. The New Hampshire Hands-Free Law goes into effect in 15 days, and police say they will be watching for violators.

Critics say this law will make the roads more dangerous for everyone. In short, the increased inconvenience doesn’t guarantee increased safety.

You know you - or someone you know - does it.

The moment you glance at that email, text, Facebook alert or navigator app, your focus dangerously shifts from the road to your smartphone.

I see a lot of people when you’re on the highway texting and not looking up,” said Kim Bancroft. “I’ve almost been pushed off the side of the road before.”

The new Hands-Free Law is supposed to put the brakes on distracted driving that has led to 116 fatal crashes in New Hampshire in the past four years. If you’re texting while driving, you’re 23 times more likely to crash. Dialing a friend? Three times more likely.

It’s a risk Lori Brodeur isn’t willing to take.

“I just need to pay attention to what I’m doing,” Brodeur said.

Craig Peterson, the host of Tech Talk radio in Manchester — and new member to Apple’s advisory board — says the new rule will make the roads even more dangerous.

“I think they’re going to move them from this nice little place to the side of the windshield where they can see the map and see what’s going on, and they’re going to put them down here,” Peterson said pointing to his lap. “So instead of looking up, they’re going to be looking way down.”

Richard Wasko from Florida isn’t worried.

“I’ve got a flip phone, so I seldom make a phone call — in a car.”

Peterson also wants to remind drivers that the Bluetooth earpiece or headphones with a microphone attached to a smartphone doesn't cut it. The key in the law, says Peterson, is that the Bluetooth must be "physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle," which would "cause the law to ban headsets as they are not integrated in any way into a motor vehicle, such as a Bluetooth headset."

Peterson says the lack of clarity in the law will make it hard for drivers to understand and for police to enforce.

Violators will be fined $100-$500.


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