Last December the National Transportation Safety Board released a report which showed that fatal crashes caused by distracted driving now outnumber the number caused by drunk driving. The NTSB recommended all states immediately enact complete and total bans of the use of handheld devices by all drivers.
So far 36 states have enacted some sort of ban, either partial or total on the use of handheld devices by drivers.
According to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, since Christmas, 16 teen drivers have been killed in crashes caused by distracted driving on Maine roadways. Now Maine is doing its part to reduce the number of crashes caused by distracted driving, and sending a message to teen drivers that distracted driving simply will not be tolerated.
The new law increases the minimum fine for texting while driving, regardless of age, to between $250 and as much as $500. Up from the current fine of $100.
Fines and terms of license suspensions for violating conditions on a juvenile provisional license, such as limits on hours of driving, are increased. The duration for which repeat offenders lose their provisional licenses for violations is also increased, to a maximum of one year. Lawmakers also increased fees to get a provisional license reinstated, and required all provisional drivers whose licenses have been suspended to take a four-hour improvement course as of Jan. 1.
Two years ago Maine legislators tried to enact a similar law, taking a tough stance against distracted driving, but that measure failed to garner enough support to pass. Following the recent spate of distracted driving tragedies and the recent NTSB report, however, the new laws found overwhelming support and passed easily.