Bill could undo some changes to Utah’s distracted driving laws

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-09 12:48:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that would roll back some of Utah's distracted driving law is advancing in the state legislature, with some new modifications.

House Bill 63, sponsored by Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, is awaiting a Senate vote after a compromise was reached by the sponsor of the original distracted driving law, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George.

"It does move to a full hands-free sooner than I would have liked, but it also does allow for a one-touch answer and a one-touch dial," Anderegg said in an interview with FOX 13. "Law enforcement said, 'We can live with that as long as there's not an active manipulation going on.'"

Anderegg said HB63 does make some changes:

  • You can make or receive a call, but only with a hands-free device (no holding the phone to your ear);
  • Texting while driving is not allowed (although Anderegg said voice-based services such as Siri or Google Voice would be);
  • Manipulating a cell phone (browsing or searching the Internet, etc.) while driving is illegal;
  • GPS navigation must be one-touch (Anderegg urged people to enter an address while pulled over and then drive);
  • Searching for music or manipulating the phone to stream would not be allowed, although Anderegg said the one-touch rule would likely apply in that case.

The Utah Dept. of Public Safety originally testified against HB63, but Capt. Doug McCleve said the agency accepts the proposed changes.

"From where it started to where it is now, it’s a much better policy in our view because it is less distractive," McCleve told FOX 13. "Anything we can do to get people to put their cell phones down and pay attention to driving is a good thing."

The bill is slated for debate in the Senate this week. If it passes, it would go to the governor for his signature or veto.