Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 17

02/23/2010 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 7(TRA) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
             HB 257-BAN CELL PHONE USE WHEN DRIVING                                                                         
1:27:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P. WILSON announced that  the final order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 257, "An  Act relating to prohibiting  the use                                                               
of  cellular  telephones  when   driving  a  motor  vehicle;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
1:27:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE DOOGAN, Alaska  State Legislature, as sponsor                                                               
of  HB  257,  mentioned  that  he  is  available  to  answer  any                                                               
1:28:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P. WILSON noted that public testimony is open on HB 257.                                                                  
1:29:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE LANG stated he was speaking  on behalf of himself.  He asked                                                               
for the reason that this bill  only applies to cell phones, since                                                               
eating  food  or applying  makeup  is  equally distracting.    He                                                               
questioned the $300 fine for use of a cell phone.                                                                               
CHAIR P.  WILSON recalled prior  testimony and related  that some                                                               
things are  more distracting to  drivers, and cell phone  use was                                                               
identified as one  of the highest reasons  for distractions while                                                               
MR. LANG mentioned that the speed  limit in Sitka is 20 miles per                                                               
hour and  talking on  a cell  phone does not  have any  effect on                                                               
driver safety.                                                                                                                  
CHARLES BOYLE,  Staff, Representative  Mike Doogan,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  stated  Mr. Lang  has  addressed  the issue  pretty                                                               
CHAIR P. WILSON related her own experiences driving in Sitka.                                                                   
1:31:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  agreed with  Mr. Lang's point  that many                                                               
other things can  be equally distracting to drivers.   He said he                                                               
supports his concern.                                                                                                           
CHAIR P.  WILSON pointed out that  she has never tried  to put on                                                               
make-up in  the car,  but has  heard that  people engage  in many                                                               
distracting activities,  such as eating  or trying to  read while                                                               
1:32:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  whether  Ms.  Cashen could  come                                                               
forward  since  he  recalled  that  she  provided  a  study  from                                                               
Virginia which helps identifies the severity of the problem.                                                                    
1:32:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CINDY  CASHEN,  Administrator,   Highway  Safety  Office  (AHSO),                                                               
Division of  Program Development, Department of  Transportation &                                                               
Public Facilities (DOT&PF), explained  that driver distraction is                                                               
a  significant factor  for crashes  that result  in injuries  and                                                               
fatalities in  Alaska.  While  the data is sketchy,  according to                                                               
research,  the number  of drivers  distracted from  driving while                                                               
using a  cell phone  and driving is  increasing nationwide.   She                                                               
referred to  a 100-car driving  study, conducted by  the National                                                               
Highway Traffic  Safety Administration  (NHTSA).  She  noted that                                                               
she has  a copy  of the  entire study, a  20-page summary  of the                                                               
study, and  a 1-page fact  sheet.   She elaborated that  the 200-                                                               
page NHTSA  study breaks down  various categories  of distraction                                                               
and the types of distractions, including hand-held and hands-                                                                   
free cell  phone devices,  eating food,  putting on  lipstick, or                                                               
any activity that takes the driver's  eyes away from the road for                                                               
up to three seconds.                                                                                                            
MS. CASHEN  reported that the  NHTSA study entailed 100  cars and                                                               
various types  of cars  and drivers were  included in  the study.                                                               
The NHTSA  study concluded  that the  number one  distraction was                                                               
cell  phone  use,   she  remarked.    She   related  that  little                                                               
difference  exists  between  use   of  hand-held  and  hands-free                                                               
devices,  in terms  of distractibility.   The  NHTSA study  found                                                               
that using a  hand-held cell phone requires a person  to punch in                                                               
numbers  during which  time  his/her eyes  must  leave the  road.                                                               
However,  conversations  made  using hand-held  devices  tend  to                                                               
result in shorter duration calls.  Although drivers using hands-                                                                
free devices are  able to keep their eyes on  road, their typical                                                               
conversations last  longer, she  stated.   The NHTSA  study found                                                               
drivers using  cell phones had  impaired cognitive  thinking, but                                                               
drivers   could  hold   conversations  with   passengers  without                                                               
impairment.   Cognitive thinking is  used for such  activities as                                                               
turning  on turn  signals.    The study  surmised  that when  the                                                               
conversation  was held  with  someone not  in  car, the  driver's                                                               
brain focused on the conversation  and not on the necessary motor                                                               
skills needed  for driving.   She surmised  that may  account for                                                               
the reason that some drivers  using cell phones either speeded up                                                               
or slowed  down, or  perhaps would  stop at  a green  light while                                                               
engaged in cell phone conversations.                                                                                            
1:36:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LANG, in  response  to Chair  Wilson,  agreed the  testimony                                                               
offered some explanation  for the bill.  However,  he offered his                                                               
belief that the  responsibility still rests with the  driver.  He                                                               
said he thought  that banning cell phone use  while driving would                                                               
take away a little personal freedom.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG challenged  members to  try using  only                                                               
one  hand to  make a  turn while  driving or  parallel parking  a                                                               
vehicle.  He concluded that  essentially describes the difficulty                                                               
in  driving with  hand-held cell  phones.   He  pointed out  that                                                               
would  be different  when devices  are attached  to a  dashboard,                                                               
although he  agreed it still  would be  more difficult to  dial a                                                               
phone while using hands-free devices.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  recalled a list of  tasks people attempt                                                               
to perform while  talking on a cell phone.   He commented that he                                                               
has also  seen people attempt  to perform these same  tasks while                                                               
driving  when they  are not  talking on  cell phones.   Sometimes                                                               
people are not good drivers, he concluded.                                                                                      
1:39:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN, in  response to  Representative Johnson,  offered to                                                               
provide a copy  of the distractions listed in the  NHTSA study to                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   wondered  if   the  top  five   or  ten                                                               
distractions  identified  in  the  NHTSA  study  should  also  be                                                               
prohibited in the bill since  they all limit the driver's ability                                                               
to perform.                                                                                                                     
MS. CASHEN mentioned  that the NHTSA study provides  the level of                                                               
risk for causing automobile accidents  so she thought it might be                                                               
something the committee would want to review.                                                                                   
1:39:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked how  the determination  was made                                                               
that a driver using a cell phone contributed to an accident.                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN responded  that data  was collected  from police  and                                                               
traffic crash  reports.   The driver either  admits to  using the                                                               
cell phone  caused the  accident or  the law  enforcement officer                                                               
confiscates the  device and obtains  the cell phone record.   She                                                               
offered her belief that cell  phone records would be obtained for                                                               
accidents involving serious injuries or fatalities.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON said  she thought  that just  because a                                                               
driver was  using his/her  cell phone and  had an  accident, that                                                               
the cause  of the accident may  not have been caused  by the cell                                                               
phone usage.                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN   explained  that  when   a  cell  phone   device  is                                                               
confiscated   during   an   accident   investigation   that   law                                                               
enforcement can determine whether the  cell phone was actually in                                                               
use at the  time of the accident.  She  related her understanding                                                               
that the officer would examine the cell phone record.                                                                           
CHAIR  P.  WILSON,  in  response  to  Representative  T.  Wilson,                                                               
explained that  cell phone  record would indicate  if a  call was                                                               
being made at the time the accident occurred.                                                                                   
1:42:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  stated  that she  did  not think  that                                                               
meant the accident was caused by the cell phone use.                                                                            
MS. CASHEN  commented that  the traffic crash  form allows  a law                                                               
enforcement  officer  to check  off  specific  boxes to  indicate                                                               
contributing  factors   for  an  accident,   including  inclement                                                               
weather or road conditions.                                                                                                     
1:43:14 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY DIAL, Lieutenant; Deputy  Commander, Alaska State Troopers                                                               
(AST),   Department  of   Public  Safety   (DPS),  related   that                                                               
essentially an  Alaska State Trooper  would attempt  to determine                                                               
primary cause  of an accident  during his/her investigation.   He                                                               
agreed  that if  a cell  phone was  involved, it  may not  be the                                                               
cause of the  accident.  For example, when a  driver is traveling                                                               
on an icy road, the icy  road would constitute the primary cause,                                                               
but the  cell phone may  have contributed  in some manner  to the                                                               
1:44:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON referred to  the report form  and asked                                                               
whether the officer would check several boxes.                                                                                  
LT. DIAL agreed the officer would do so.                                                                                        
1:44:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P.  WILSON asked whether a  box on the form  exists to rank                                                               
the primary and secondary causes of an accident.                                                                                
LT. DIAL responded that usually  there is a primary cause listed.                                                               
Often an accident has multiple  secondary causes and sometimes it                                                               
can be  difficult to determine  the primary cause.   However, law                                                               
enforcement  officers  are  trained   and  must  use  their  best                                                               
judgment, he stated.                                                                                                            
1:45:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  recalled other states have  restricted cell                                                               
phone use and she asked for clarification.                                                                                      
MS. CASHEN  agreed.   She reported  that currently  eight states,                                                               
including  Washington  D.C.  ban  hand-held  devices,  but  other                                                               
states have not  banned hands-free cell phone  use, although some                                                               
states are considering legislation to ban all cell phones.                                                                      
1:46:14 PM                                                                                                                    
JOSEPH  STOCKER stated  that he  attends Pacific  High School  in                                                               
Sitka.  He asked what would  be considered an emergency since the                                                               
bill allows cell phone use for emergencies.                                                                                     
MS. CASHEN deferred the definition of emergency to Lt. Dial.                                                                    
LT.  DIAL   answered  that  the  department   would  classify  an                                                               
emergency as something  to protect property or safety.   Thus, if                                                               
someone needed to call 911, it would be considered an emergency.                                                                
CHAIR P. WILSON added that she  would consider it an emergency if                                                               
an accident happened.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON speculated  that if he were  a teenager on                                                               
his way  home that  he would  consider calling  home to  tell his                                                               
parents he was going to be late as constituting an emergency.                                                                   
LT.  DIAL answered  that such  activity would  not constitute  an                                                               
emergency, nor  would calling 911  to report such  information be                                                               
considered an emergency.                                                                                                        
1:48:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG related  an emergency  is an  objective                                                               
determination and the  test would be whether  a reasonable person                                                               
would consider the activity as an emergency.                                                                                    
CHAIR  P.  WILSON  remarked  to  testifiers  that  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg can provide some guidance since he is an attorney.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  referred  to  an  e-mail  in  members'                                                               
packets with a lengthy description of the Virginia study.                                                                       
1:50:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STOCKER  pointed out  that he  spends a  good portion  of his                                                               
time driving and the bill would be too restrictive to drivers.                                                                  
CHAIR P.  WILSON remarked that as  a person gets older  less time                                                               
is  spent in  his/her car.   She  explained that  the legislature                                                               
must consider what the best solution overall is for citizens.                                                                   
1:52:35 PM                                                                                                                    
JOAN  PRIESTLEY,  Physician;  Medical  Director,  Health  Renewal                                                               
Institute,  stated that  she is  a medical  doctor for  a private                                                               
non-profit  foundation  in  Alaska.   She  explained  the  Health                                                               
Renewal Institute has  studied the issue.   Most importantly, the                                                               
legislation  will not  have the  intended affect  on safety,  she                                                               
stated.   She  then referred  to  an "exhaustive  review" by  the                                                               
Insurance  Institute of  Highway Safety  (IIHS), which  took over                                                               
nine months  to compile.  She  stated that from 1995-  2008, cell                                                               
phone users  increased by 500  percent and between 2000  and 2008                                                               
the  number  of  drivers  using cell  phones  while  driving  has                                                               
increased  by  250  percent.   It  is  currently  estimated  that                                                               
approximately 10 percent of drivers  are talking on cell phone at                                                               
any one time.  However,  the national insurance study claims that                                                               
from  1995 -  2008  the  incidence of  insurance  claims has  not                                                               
increased.   She  stated that  the IIHS  reviewed fatal  and non-                                                               
fatal accidents and found a gradual  decline of 8 percent for all                                                               
accidents  were  reported during  that  period.   She  noted  the                                                               
DOT&PF report  also seems to  bear this  out.  She  reported that                                                               
over  425,000  drivers'  licenses   are  issued  in  Alaska,  and                                                               
thousands of  accidents are reported  annually.  Yet,  from 2002-                                                               
2007  only 59  accidents annually  involve cell  phone use.   She                                                               
reported that  figure has  decreased by 25  percent in  Alaska in                                                               
recent years.                                                                                                                   
1:55:41 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PRIESTLEY stated  that the  IIHS reviewed  four states  with                                                               
bans on  hand-held cell phones,  including New  York, California,                                                               
Connecticut, and Washington  D.C.  The study reviewed  all of the                                                               
claims submitted two  years prior to the ban and  two years after                                                               
the ban went  into effect.  The  IIHS did not find  any change in                                                               
insurance   claims  submitted   in   those   states  during   the                                                               
timeframes.  Next,  the study compared those four  states to four                                                               
other  states,  including Arizona,  Pennsylvania,  Massachusetts,                                                               
and one other state, comparable  in population, that did not have                                                               
a ban on cell  phones.  She reported that the  two graphs for the                                                               
states  were  identical.   She  stated  that  there was  not  any                                                               
decline  in insurance  claims  when comparing  the  states.   She                                                               
quoted the president as saying,  "The key finding is that crashes                                                               
are  not going  down where  hand-held  phone use  is going  down.                                                               
This finding doesn't  demonstrate any safety payoff  from all the                                                               
new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving."                                                                         
1:57:11 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. PRIESTLEY  surmised that  based on  research this  bill could                                                               
actually cause crashes.   In Alaska, people want  to be instantly                                                               
accessible or they may lose clients  or business.  If people must                                                               
pull off the road, they must find  an area off the road to answer                                                               
their  phones.   She  thought  this  would affect  professionals,                                                               
including real estate and health professionals.                                                                                 
DR. PRIESTLEY stated that this  bill will call citizens to suffer                                                               
needless  expense in  the  form of  fines,  which basically  will                                                               
"criminalize"  innocent actions.   She  noted the  subtle revenue                                                               
stream.  She related that insurance  is keen on passing this type                                                               
of legislation.  She offered  her belief that insurance companies                                                               
think accidents rates will be reduced.                                                                                          
1:58:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PRIESTLEY explained  that  when  a person  has  a record  or                                                               
obtains points  on their license  for being cited for  cell phone                                                               
use, that the insurance companies  could "jack that person's rate                                                               
sky  high."   She  related  this  could  drive people  of  lesser                                                               
economic  means to  make a  choice between  paying their  rent or                                                               
auto insurance.                                                                                                                 
DR. PRIESTLEY  stated that  HB 257  goes too  far by  gutting the                                                               
fourth amendment protections against  unreasonable searches.  The                                                               
bill would allow police to  stop vehicles without probable cause.                                                               
She  said  this  bill  should be  subtitled,  "The  Police  State                                                               
Acceleration and  Enhancement Act."  She  characterized this bill                                                               
as social engineering.  She  recalled several studies by American                                                               
Automobile  Association  Foundation  for  Traffic  Safety.    She                                                               
summarized the  findings, and  the causes  of distractions.   The                                                               
most common  distraction was looking  at an outside  event, which                                                               
caused  30  percent  of  all   crashes  caused  by  distractions.                                                               
Adjusting the  radio or  the CD caused  11 percent  of accidents.                                                               
Disciplining children or talking  to passengers caused 11 percent                                                               
of accidents.   Another study  showed that eating  food increased                                                               
the odds of an accident by  57 percent.  And personal grooming or                                                               
reading  increased  the risk  of  a  crash  by 300  percent,  she                                                               
stated.   She said using  cell phones caused an  accident between                                                               
1.5 to 3.5 percent, based on the two studies.                                                                                   
DR.  PRIESTLEY   suggested  this  bill  is   dangerous,  onerous,                                                               
needless,  and expensive  and has  unintended consequences.   She                                                               
encouraged  members to  allow this  bill  to suffer  a quiet  and                                                               
dignified death.                                                                                                                
2:03:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  P. WILSON  asked  whether she  could  describe the  Health                                                               
Renewal Institute.                                                                                                              
DR.  PRIESTLY stated  the IIHS  was formed  to study  issues like                                                               
this, and to promote the use of holistic medicine.                                                                              
2:04:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN related that the  bill makes it a primary                                                               
offense  to use  a cell  phone.   A police  officer could  stop a                                                               
person for talking on their cell  phone.  He asked whether Alaska                                                               
has enough law enforcement personnel to enforce this.                                                                           
DR.  PRIESTLEY answered  no, not  the Alaska  State Troopers  and                                                               
Anchorage Police  Department since  they have enough  real crimes                                                               
to investigate.                                                                                                                 
2:05:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked if she could  provide the committee                                                               
with the studies.                                                                                                               
DR. PRIESTLEY  referred to a  summary from the Highway  Loss Data                                                               
Institute, who  testified at a  Society of  Automotive Engineer's                                                               
meeting on  January 29,  2010.   She said  the slides  are large,                                                               
readable, and  excellent and demonstrate  that a ban  on drivers'                                                               
cell phones will do not result in safer driving.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked for copies of the studies.                                                                         
DR.  PRIESTLEY offered  to  provide studies  and  summary of  her                                                               
2:07:07 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. PRIESTLEY, in response  to Representative Gruenberg, answered                                                               
that she is a medical doctor.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  for information  on  the  three                                                               
organizations she cited.                                                                                                        
DR.  PRIESTLEY stated  that the  Insurance Institute  for Highway                                                               
Safety is an independent organization  supported by the insurance                                                               
industry.  It  is surprising to have a serious  study done by the                                                               
insurance  industry that  to  refute cell  phone  bans since  the                                                               
industry seems to support laws that  ban cell phones.  She stated                                                               
that  the Highway  Loss Data  Institute is  a subdivision  of the                                                               
IIHS and compiled claims from 1995 - 2008.                                                                                      
2:08:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.   PRIESTLEY,  in   response   to  Representative   Gruenberg,                                                               
explained  that the  Health Renewal  Institute  was founded  this                                                               
year and does not receive any industry support.                                                                                 
2:09:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAELLA RICE  stated that this  bill, HB 257, could  cause more                                                               
problems than  it solves.  She  offered her belief that  the bill                                                               
would  adversely affect  businesses that  use cell  phones.   She                                                               
pointed out that  the bill does not allow hands-free  usage.  She                                                               
explained that some  devices could be concealed by  hair and some                                                               
cars  also have  devices that  can answer  phones.   She did  not                                                               
think Alaska could be compared  to other states since most states                                                               
have  busier  highways and  more  distractions  for drivers  than                                                               
Alaska does.   She recommended  members consider an  amendment to                                                               
the bill to allow for hands-free devices to be used.                                                                            
LT DIAL  added that  "emergency" is  defined under  AS 42.20.150.                                                               
He said  emergency means a  situation in which property  or human                                                               
life  is  in  jeopardy  and   the  prompt  summoning  of  aid  is                                                               
2:13:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether  Lt. Dial would support an                                                               
amendment to the bill that would add a definition for emergency.                                                                
LT. DIAL answered yes.                                                                                                          
2:13:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked Dr. Priestly if  she would prefer                                                               
the bill if it was amendment limited to hands-free cell phones.                                                                 
DR. PRIESTLEY  responded that she  believes that the  limit would                                                               
still be social engineering and micro-management.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether  she could put  aside her                                                               
personal politics and consider the scientific data.                                                                             
DR.  PRIESTLEY opined  that  there  was not  a  basis to  support                                                               
restrictions of  devices, even in states  that allowed hands-free                                                               
devices.  She  offered her view that the science  did not support                                                               
this.   She considered the  restriction of  cell phones to  be an                                                               
unfunded  mandate  since people  would  likely  need to  buy  the                                                               
phones.   She  said she  did  not think  restricting cell  phones                                                               
would have the hoped for results.                                                                                               
2:15:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked  Lt. Dial  if  cell phones  were                                                               
banned, if he could identify a  type of alternative that would be                                                               
less hazardous for people to use while driving.                                                                                 
LT. DIAL  deferred the  question to  the AHSO,  since he  did not                                                               
think he was qualified to answer this question.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON  asked whether cell phones  were used by                                                               
the Alaska State Troopers.                                                                                                      
LT. DIAL related  that the AST primarily uses police  radios.  He                                                               
explained  that   the  AST   would  limit   cell  phone   use  to                                                               
confidential information.   Further, the AST  recommends officers                                                               
pull off the  roadway before using a cell phone.   In response to                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg, he  referred to  AS 42.21.150  for the                                                               
location of definitions.                                                                                                        
2:18:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P.  WILSON, after first  determining no one else  wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 257.                                                                                     
2:19:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ made a motion  to adopt Amendment 1, labeled                                                               
26-LS1104\E.1, Luckhaupt, 2/8/10, which read, as follows:                                                                       
     Page 1, line 8, following "telephone":                                                                                     
          Insert "(1)"                                                                                                          
     Page 1, line 10, following "entity":                                                                                       
          Insert "; or                                                                                                          
               (2)  by hands-free mode"                                                                                         
     Page 1, following line 10:                                                                                                 
     Insert a new subsection to read:                                                                                           
          "(c)  In this section, "hands-free mode" means                                                                        
      use of a cellular telephone for listening or talking                                                                      
      by means of a speaker function, headset, or earpiece                                                                      
     without holding the telephone."                                                                                            
     Reletter the following subsection accordingly.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN objected for purpose of discussion.                                                                     
2:19:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  explained that  Amendment 1 would  allow an                                                               
exception for the use of hands-free cell phones.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  offered  his  belief that  this  is  bad                                                               
policy,  that it  is  an  infringement of  personal  rights.   He                                                               
recalled testimony  that data is  missing, or is speculated.   He                                                               
stated  that  if   cell  phone  use  is   problematic,  that  the                                                               
correlation between number of accidents  and enormous increase in                                                               
cell phone use does not indicate a problem exists.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON stated that  no other states have banned                                                               
cell phones entirely.  She asked  how this bill would affect tour                                                               
guides and others who use  cell phones in their everyday business                                                               
use, including law enforcement officers.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN offered  his belief  that if  exclusions                                                               
were  listed,  the list  would  run  into  "pages and  pages"  of                                                               
exclusions  since  so  many  businesses  use  cell  phones.    He                                                               
understood  that many  companies no  longer use  dispatches since                                                               
their drivers all have cell phones.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN pointed  out that an amendment  is on the                                                               
table that deals exclusively with hands-free devices.                                                                           
CHAIR P. WILSON  cautioned members to keep  comments to Amendment                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked  whether statistics were available                                                               
to support the amendment.                                                                                                       
2:23:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG suggested  members may  wish to  review                                                               
several research papers in members'  packets.  He listed a number                                                               
of the studies and information that members should consider.                                                                    
2:26:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   offered  that  seven   states  impose                                                               
statewide bans  while talking on  hand-held devices.   He pointed                                                               
out  that  Amendment  1 would  prohibit  hand-held  devices,  but                                                               
permit  hands-free  devices.   He  maintained  that seven  states                                                               
allow hands-free cell phones.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  agreed that  seven states  would allow                                                               
hands-free cell phone use.                                                                                                      
2:27:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG referred  to  the Connecticut  statute,                                                               
and read,  "hand-held mobile telephone  means a  mobile telephone                                                               
with which  a user engages  in a call  using at least  one hand."                                                               
He  said, "It  bans them  and it  does exactly  what Amendment  1                                                               
does.   So we have  seven states do  what Amendment 1  does, plus                                                               
the District of Columbia."                                                                                                      
2:28:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ   explained  that  the  data   provided  in                                                               
members'  packets speaks  to seven  states that  banned hand-held                                                               
devices,  but  all  of  the   states  allow  hands-free  devices,                                                               
although that information is not explicitly stated.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  pointed out  that seven  states already                                                               
have  laws in  place similar  to what  Amendment 1  would impose.                                                               
There is a trend for other states  to ban the use of cell phones.                                                               
He elaborated that  some ban text messaging, a  second group bans                                                               
cell phone  use while operating  a school bus, yet  another group                                                               
bans novice drivers  from using cell phones.   Thus, Alaska would                                                               
be taking  a step  similar to  what the  other seven  states have                                                               
2:30:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN removed his objection.                                                                                  
2:31:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON then objected.                                                                                           
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  Johansen, Munoz,                                                               
Gruenberg, Petersen,  and Chair P.  Wilson voted in favor  of the                                                               
amendment.   Representatives Johnson and T.  Wilson voted against                                                               
it.  Therefore, Amendment 1 was adopted by a vote of 5-2.                                                                       
2:32:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  2,                                                               
labeled, 26-LS 1104\E.2, Luckhaupt, 2/19/10, which read:                                                                        
     Page 1, line 2:                                                                                                            
         Delete "; and providing for an effective date"                                                                       
     Page 1, line 13:                                                                                                           
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON objected.                                                                                              
2:33:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  explained  that normally  it  takes  a                                                               
simple majority for a bill to  pass the legislature.  However, if                                                               
an  effective date  is contained  in the  bill it  would take  27                                                               
votes to  pass the House.   Thus, unless  there is a  good reason                                                               
for it, he suggested the effective date should be removed.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN pointed  out that in the  event the House                                                               
of Representatives  did not  vote on the  effective date  that it                                                               
would take 90 days  for the bill to become law.   He related that                                                               
the effective date has no bearing on substance of the bill.                                                                     
2:34:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON maintained her objection.                                                                              
CHAIR WILSON recapped  Amendment 2, stating that  it would delete                                                               
on page 1, line 2, "; and providing for an effective date."                                                                     
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives  Munoz, Gruenberg,                                                               
Petersen,  and  P.   Wilson  voted  in  favor   of  Amendment  2.                                                               
Representatives Johansen,  Johnson, and  T. Wilson  voted against                                                               
it.  Therefore, Amendment 2 was adopted by a vote of 4-3.                                                                       
2:35:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 3, to adopt the  definition for "emergency" as given in                                                               
AS 42.20.150  (1).   He described  Conceptual Amendment  3, which                                                               
would use  the definition of  "emergency" for this section  as it                                                               
is defined in  AS 42.20.150 (1).  He stated  this amendment would                                                               
clarify the type of "emergency" that would apply.                                                                               
There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                   
2:37:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  made a  motion  to  adopt Amendment  4,                                                               
labeled  26-LS1104\E.3,   Luckhaupt,  2/23/10,  which   read,  as                                                               
     Page 1, following line 10:                                                                                                 
     Insert a new subsection to read:                                                                                           
          "(c)  Notwithstanding another provision of law, a                                                                     
     peace officer  may not stop  or detain a  motor vehicle                                                                    
     to determine  compliance with (a)  of this  section, or                                                                    
     issue  a  citation  for  a violation  of  (a)  of  this                                                                    
     section, unless  the peace  officer has  probable cause                                                                    
     to stop  or detain the  motor vehicle other than  for a                                                                    
     violation of (a) of this section."                                                                                         
     Reletter the following subsection accordingly.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON objected for purpose of discussion.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN explained that  Amendment 4 would require                                                               
a  police officer  to have  probable cause  in order  to stop  or                                                               
detain a motor vehicle for some  reason other than for cell phone                                                               
use.   Thus,  a  police  offer must  have  some  reason, such  as                                                               
erratic driving,  before the officer  could make a  traffic stop.                                                               
Therefore, cell  phone use  while driving  would be  considered a                                                               
secondary  offense.   He stated  that several  other states  have                                                               
adopted this law.  Since  law enforcement officers are limited in                                                               
numbers, Amendment 4  would also allow them to  ignore cell phone                                                               
use, but  in the  event a  driver was stopped  or involved  in an                                                               
accident, an officer could cite the driver for cell phone use.                                                                  
2:40:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  whether  distracted  driving is  a                                                               
currently considered a  primary offense and if an  AST would pull                                                               
over the vehicle.                                                                                                               
LT. DIAL answered that several  potential citations could be used                                                               
in  the event  a  driver  was engaged  in  reckless or  negligent                                                               
driving or if the cell-phone use  caused an accident.  In further                                                               
response  to  Representative Johnson,  Lt.  Dial  stated that  an                                                               
officer would  likely cite someone  for negligent driving  if the                                                               
driver was  distracted by activities  such as putting  on make-up                                                               
while  driving.    He  further  answered  that  the  category  of                                                               
reckless  driving  is  considered  a  more  serious  charge  than                                                               
negligent driving  since it  would create  a substantial  risk to                                                               
persons or property.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  whether a  driver would  be pulled                                                               
over  if  he/she did  not  swerve  or otherwise  exhibit  erratic                                                               
driving while using a cell phone.                                                                                               
LT.  DIAL answered  no.   He stated  that it  is quite  common to                                                               
observe  all kinds  of  distracted driving  and  drivers are  not                                                               
pulled over if they are not endangering someone or something.                                                                   
2:42:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON removed his objection.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON stated that  she noticed a  fiscal note                                                               
was not  attached to  the bill.   She  then asked  whether radios                                                               
would have  to be installed in  state vehicles if cell  phone use                                                               
is banned.                                                                                                                      
2:44:17 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further objection, Amendment 4 was adopted.                                                                      
2:44:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN made a motion  to rescind the committee's                                                               
action to adopt Amendment 2.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  explained that the effect  of Amendment                                                               
2 was  to delay the  effect of the bill.   He suggested  that the                                                               
bill would  be effective earlier.   He said he did  not object if                                                               
the bill has an earlier effective date.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  withdrew  his  motion  to  rescind  the                                                               
committee's action on adopting Amendment 2.                                                                                     
2:47:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON made  a motion to table the  bill to allow                                                               
time  for  the committee  to  obtain  information, including  the                                                               
information  referenced by  Dr. Priestly,  prior to  passing this                                                               
bill.   He  offered  his belief  that this  bill  would place  an                                                               
egregious burden on citizens.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN objected.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON withdrew his motion to table HB 257.                                                                     
CHAIR P. WILSON stated her intention  to hold the bill over since                                                               
there appears to be significant objection to the bill.                                                                          
2:49:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN offered  to  provide  copies of  two  studies to  the                                                               
committee:  the AAA study  and the Institute of Insurance Highway                                                               
Safety (IIHS)  study.  She  explained the reason the  AHSO office                                                               
did not  use the information contained  in the studies had  to do                                                               
with  potential  bias.    She explained  that  the  Institute  of                                                               
Insurance  study  raised  many   questions  with  the  Governor's                                                               
Highway   Safety    Association   and   the    National   Highway                                                               
Transportation  Safety Administration  because the  type of  data                                                               
collected depends  on the people  involved in  automobile crashes                                                               
to  independently file  their insurance  claims.   She  explained                                                               
that the data fluctuates for many  reasons.  She pointed out that                                                               
the  AHSO reviews  considers "hard  data" but  does not  consider                                                               
data  that  may  be  affected  by  economic  reasons  or  similar                                                               
factors.   She also mentioned that  about ten years ago  a change                                                               
was made so  that drivers involved in accidents  are not required                                                               
to  wait for  law enforcement  to arrive.   The  DOT&PF currently                                                               
depends on  drivers to file  their own crash information.   Thus,                                                               
what   has  transpired   is  that   the   forms  submitted   have                                                               
subsequently diminished  since it is the  driver's responsibility                                                               
to  submit the  form.    This has  definitely  impacted the  data                                                               
collected, she stated.                                                                                                          
2:52:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN   commented  would   like  to   see  the                                                               
information contained in the actual  studies rather than have the                                                               
DOT&PF interpret  the data.   He  stated that if  the AHSO  has a                                                               
problem gathering data  that the DOT&PF should  request a statute                                                               
CHAIR P.  WILSON stated that  self-reporting data may  be slanted                                                               
since the driver may want to "put themselves in the best light".                                                                
MS. CASHEN  related that the  AHSO has  seen the number  of forms                                                               
collected decline  and the AHSO  has noticed cell phone  usage is                                                               
not often listed.  Chair Wilson's  observation may be part of the                                                               
explanation for the change.                                                                                                     
2:53:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  asked   for  further  clarification  on                                                               
whether  a change  in statute  is needed  to assist  the AHSO  in                                                               
obtaining additional information.                                                                                               
MS.  CASHEN  explained that  the  AHSO  is concerned  about  what                                                               
information is requested on the reporting form.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN maintained his  interest in assisting the                                                               
AHSO obtain the information it needs.                                                                                           
MS.  CASHEN  clarified that  one  small  change on  the  accident                                                               
reporting  form would  affect every  agency, including  the court                                                               
system.  Thus,  the effect may result in agencies  not having the                                                               
capability to  share the  information with  other agencies.   She                                                               
stressed the  importance of being  able to capture and  share the                                                               
information the  potential costs  for computer  software upgrades                                                               
to accommodate agencies,  including the court system  and the DMV                                                               
could  be in  the  millions.   She noted  the  complexity of  the                                                               
reporting  issues,  but  related  that  as  agencies  convert  to                                                               
electronic  citations that  categories for  distractions will  be                                                               
added.   She said she  wished that capturing accurate  crash data                                                               
was an  easier problem  to remedy, but  she assured  members that                                                               
the AHSO will continue to work on the issue.                                                                                    
2:55:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked  whether  the form  is  no  longer                                                               
MS. CASHEN said  she thought he was referring to  one page of the                                                               
report.   She offered  her belief that  the Department  of Public                                                               
Safety does  not currently  have the  responsibility to  fill out                                                               
crash forms.                                                                                                                    
LT. DIAL  explained that AS  28.35.080 addresses this issue.   He                                                               
said  that essentially  the driver  of a  vehicle involved  in an                                                               
accident that  results in bodily  injury, death, or damage  to an                                                               
extent of $2,000  or more must provide notice of  the accident to                                                               
the  police  department.    He  stated  that  the  AST  completes                                                               
accident report forms  in those cases.  However, in  the event an                                                               
accident happened in  the past or results in less  than $2,000 in                                                               
damages, the individual  is give a Participant  Accident Form and                                                               
would fill out the form without the assistance of a trooper.                                                                    
2:57:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR P. WILSON offered her belief  that the AST cannot cover all                                                               
accidents so a policy call was made.                                                                                            
LT.  DIAL  agreed  the  policy   change  has  reduced  the  AST's                                                               
involvement in accident reports.                                                                                                
2:59:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   referred  to  a  collision   report  in                                                               
members' packets  and asked if  this specific form was  the self-                                                               
reporting form mentioned earlier.                                                                                               
LT.  DIAL responded  that  all law  enforcement  agencies in  the                                                               
state  use  the  specified  form  in  instances  of  any  serious                                                               
accidents,  but  that it  is  not  considered the  self-reporting                                                               
form.   In further response  to Representative Johnson,  Lt. Dial                                                               
agreed  that  the  state  currently   collects  data  on  serious                                                               
2:59:51 PM                                                                                                                    
[HB 257 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB345-DOT-NRF-2-22-10 .pdf HTRA 2/23/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB7-DOT-CRF-2-22-10 .pdf HTRA 2/23/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 7