Douglas opposes cell phone, seat belt legislation

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he doesn’t support legislation being considered in the House that bans drivers from using hand held cell phones and imposes a primary enforcement seat belt law.

The measure was approved by the House Judiciary committee and is currently being reviewed by the House Transportation committee.

Currently, Vermont has a secondary enforcement seat belt law, which means that a driver must be stopped for a different traffic violation in order to be given a ticket for failing to use their seat belt.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, the governor said he sees no reason to change the current law:

(Douglas) “We have a mandatory auto insurance law now but about 9% of our drivers don’t carry it even though it’s the law. So I really wonder if it would make an appreciable difference in terms of compliance if we simply require it legislatively. It seems to be the better approach is education. So if we reinforce the message, if we get the importance of buckling up and being safe out to Vermonters, I think they’ll comply more readily than passing a law.”

(Host) Douglas says he’s also not convinced that a ban on hand held cell phone use by drivers would have impact on overall highway safety:

(Douglas) “I think this is an example of attempts to legislate common sense and good judgement that really aren’t going to have a significant impact if they’re passed on the behavior of the driving public.”>

(Host) The legislation would also impose a new late night driving restriction on 16 and 17 year old drivers. The governor says he doesn’t oppose this provision of the bill.

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