PORTLAND — Maine’s hands-free driving law could get an update, just a few months after the law went into effect.
The hands-free driving law took effect in September. It says you can’t use a handheld device, like a cell phone, while driving on a public way, but the lawmaker who sponsored that legislation said there is something they overlooked, parking lots.
Sen. Bill Diamond said distracted driving is a problem in parking lots, where pedestrians are passing through and drivers are focused on finding the best spot.
He sponsored the original hands-free bill, and now wants to amend it, to prohibit the use of handheld electronic devices in parking areas.
“This would apply, the hands-free applies there as well as it does with operating under the influence, so we got that cleaned up a little bit so that’s consistent,” Diamond said.
AAA of Northern New England supports the bill.
A spokesperson said 20 percent of collisions happen in parking lots, and even though many are private, the law should still apply because the risk is there.
So where can you send that text or make that call?
“If they pull into a parking spot, in a parking lot? All good!” Diamond said. “And the law says pull off anywhere you want to as long as it’s safe, a safe spot and the hands-free does not apply.”
Diamond says his bill would also exempt ham radio operators, and clear up some confusion about the fine, setting the first offense at $50, rather than the $230 suggested by the courts.
“I think the law is doing what it was intended to do and I think it’s a culture change, but I think we’re making a lot of headway,” Diamond said.
Diamond’s bill is scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday at 1 p.m.