Beginning Wednesday, July 1, 2020, drivers throughout Idaho will be responsible to follow a new law meant to keep drivers safe and engaged while behind the wheel.
The new Idaho State Code 49-1401A requires electronic devices be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at a red light or stop sign. In other words, with few exceptions, the new hands-free device law makes holding a cell phone illegal while operating a vehicle.
The new law, HB 614 is intended to "address safety concerns associated with a significant portion of distracted driving crashes," said Col. Kedrick Wills, Director of the Idaho State Police.
Idaho drivers are encouraged to SHIFT their behavior and focus on engaged driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving remains a danger, and over the past decade has morphed from random incidents to a persistent and dangerous problem.
- 241 people killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.
- In 1 in 5 crashes in Idaho, distracted driving is contributing factor.
"Things can go wrong very quickly when you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds,” reminded ISP Col. Wills.
This law applies in every city and county throughout the state. Troopers, officers and deputies will issue warnings from July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Citations can be issued beginning January 1, 2021.
WHAT DRIVERS NEED TO KNOW:
- Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode;
- Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode;
- Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone;
- Activation of GPS, voice to text, and making or receiving calls is permitted with one-touch or voice command;
- Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency;
- Drivers are not allowed to touch a device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use;
- Should a driver receive two distracted driving violations in three years, the new law states insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing insurance rates for a driver.
"We're in this together, every motorist on the road. Our lawmakers have seen the need to give law enforcement in every jurisdiction, cities, counties and the state, a greater tool to ensure traffic safety. But the greatest power lies with each individual motorist who gets behind the wheel and makes the conscious decision to be engaged while driving,” said Col. Wills.
Source: Idaho State Police, News Release – June 29, 2020, July 1: Hands-Free Cell Phone Law