Idaho lawmakers concerned about road safety have introduced bills that would ban texting while driving, penalize people who drive carelessly around bicyclists and punish rash cyclists who speed through crosswalks.
The bills, introduced Thursday in the Senate Transportation Committee, were prompted by studies that showed the increased risks drivers face while texting and by at least four fatal biking accidents that happened in southern Idaho last year.
Caldwell Sen. John McGee’s bill would make texting while driving a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $300 fine, the equivalent to the state’s inattentive driving law.
Meanwhile, Boise Democrat Sen. Elliot Werk is tackling drivers’ behavior around bicyclists, saying three fatal biking accidents in his city last year and one in Twin Falls prompted his bills. One bill would make threatening a bicyclist a misdemeanor, while another punishes drivers who veer within three feet of a person on a bicycle – each carry fines of $75.
Werk says he wants to make bikers practice safer road habits, so he’s going after inconsiderate two-wheelers who hold up cars or recklessly enter roads. Another bill bans bikes without brakes, something commonly found on fixed-gear urban bicycles styled after those used by messengers in big cities.
The Senate Transportation Committee is due to hold full hearings on the measures in coming weeks. (AP)