Personal Injury on Airplanes is a Thing, and You Need to Know Your Rights

Angel Reyes III Aside, Personal Injury

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Summer is almost at an end, and school has started back up, leaving many of us trying to get in one last trip by ground and air.

Typically, personal injuries involving transportation accidents are focused on those that involve pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, or automobiles; however, despite the relative safety of air flights, accidents while aboard a plane do occur.

The most serious injuries during flights are due to

  • collision
  • rapid deceleration brought on by pilot error
  • faulty equipment
  • Federal Aviation Administration regulation violations
  • structural or design problems of the aircraft
  • negligence of flight service station employees
  • negligence of federal air traffic controllers
  • negligence of other personal aboard or preparing the plane for flight such as ground controllers or flight attendants.

Any of these causes entitle the injured party compensation to recover for any losses sustained while on the commercial airline, which is recognized as a common carrier or public transportation service.

The cause of the accident is important as it helps direct which way an attorney will proceed, such as negligence or product liability.

Some of the most common liable parties include the owners or operators, pilot, manufacturers, maintenance suppliers, and in some instances the federal government entities that failed to meet their regulatory responsibilities can be held accountable as well.

Damages against any party found liable for the accident, or injury, are similar to that of any other personal injury lawsuit. As with any personal injury service, there can be both punitive and compensatory damages which include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, past and future pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Should I Speak with an Attorney if I have Been Injured In-Flight?

Yes! If you have sustained any injuries during a flight, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies. An attorney at Reyes Browne Reilly will be able to explain the value of your case and help you navigate through the complex laws that govern airlines and aviation accidents.

Exploding Vape Causes Death

Angel Reyes III Aside, Defects

A former CNBC producer was killed when his vape exploded and lodged in his skull, according to an autopsy confirmed by the medical examiner of Pinellas County.

Tallmadge Wakeman D’Elia, 38, who went by “Wake,” died on Cinco de Mayo in St. Petersburg, FL after his vape pen ignited a fire in his bedroom. The autopsy results  reportedly showed the vape not only exploded and sparked the blaze, but it made a “projectile wound” in D’Elia’s skull.

Bill Pellan, Director of Investigations at the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the report.

The vape pen was reportedly a device made in the Philippines that is unregulated and not recommended for beginners. It’s still unclear what caused the pen to explode.

When firefighters discovered him, 45% of his body was covered in burns. The medical examiner says D’Elia’s cause of death is “accidental.”

A recent FEMA/ US Fire Administration report found e-cigarette and vape explosions are not common but when they do occur, they can be extremely deadly as the shape of the devices make them behave like “flaming rockets.”

FEMA, which keeps stats on e-cigarettes, says D’Elia’s death is the first in the U.S. caused by a vape pen.

Has a loved one been killed in an accident due to a defective product and you have questions? We want to help in your case because we care about the outcome, hoping that we can achieve compensation you deserve. Call the Dallas product liability lawyers at Reyes Browne Reilley as soon as possible to find out how we can assist with your case.

Note: These posts have been created through the use of secondary sources – the information provided has not been confirmed on an independent level. If you see information that needs correcting, please bring it to our attention and we will honor the post by correcting, or removing.

Disclaimer: At our firm, we wish to honor the victims of these tragedies and give general information to the public about accident news. We do not wish to disrespect parties and do not want this information to be misconstrued as medical or legal advice. Do not rely on this information exclusively, and instead seek the help of a trusted attorney moving forward.

Roads are Safer, Yet Thousands of Americans Still Die in Car Crashes Every Year

Angel Reyes III Aside, Auto Accidents

Today, driving is arguably safer than it has ever been before with decreased car crashes.

Modern vehicles now boast a number of safety features, including blind spot monitoring, driver alertness detection systems and emergency braking. Additionally, highway engineering has improved over the last several decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called motor vehicle safety one of the top 10 U.S. public health achievements of the 20th century.

Despite this, there were 32,166 crashes that led to at least one death in the U.S. in 2015.

Over the course of one year, crash injuries cost an estimated US$18 billion spent in lifetime medical expenses and $33 billion of lifetime work. That’s six times more in medical costs than the U.S. spends annually treating gunshot wounds.

These numbers are alarming. It’s not a stretch to say that motor vehicle crashes should be viewed as a public health crisis. I have been researching roadway safety for the last five years and have provided expert testimony to state legislative bodies on my findings. The data show that robust distracted driving policies can make a difference — if states pursue them.

Why people crash

Why are there so many crashes when cars and roadways are much improved? Part of the answer lies in a ballooning technological phenomenon: distracted driving.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three primary types of driver distraction: taking one’s hands off the wheel, taking one’s eyes off the road and taking one’s mind off driving.

When a driver interacts with a cellphone — texting, video streaming, emailing — it takes his eyes off the road for several seconds at a time. Research shows that cellphone use while driving can result in longer reaction times, impaired following distance and crashes

That can be injurious, if not deadly. Studies on distracted driving and cellphone use almost always find negative roadway outcomes, such as near-misses, crashes and delayed reaction times.

In 2015, 10 percent of all roadway fatalities occurring in the U.S. involved distraction, leading to close to 3,500 deaths and an estimated 391,000 people injured. While distracted driving is prevalent among all ages, drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were involved in more fatal crashes than those in other age groups.

Other major causes for fatal crashes include unfavorable weather conditions, such as fog or snow; drivers’ physical impairments, such as drowsiness or heart attacks; aggressive driver behavior; or vehicle failures.

Paradoxically, some causes of crashes may seem positive. As the economy improves and gasoline prices drop, more people drive and crash risk increases. In recent years, the U.S. has climbed out of a recession, and the unemployment rate has been on the decline.

Distracted driving laws

To tackle the public health threat of coronary heart disease and stroke, states implemented tobacco control laws that prohibit smoking in public places; implemented excise taxes; and allowed Medicaid to cover treatment of tobacco addiction.

States have also used legislation to address motor vehicle safety. Common laws include blood alcohol concentration limits; graduated driver licensing programs; and laws mandating the use of seat belts, child safety seats and motorcycle helmets.

States have also zeroed in on texting. Today, all states but Montana have passed laws that specifically prohibit texting while driving. The laws generally define texting as the manual composition, reading or sending electronic communications via a portable electronic device.

However, all state laws prohibiting texting while driving are not created equal. For example, in some states, an officer cannot stop a driver just for texting — there must be another reason. Moreover, some states, like Indiana, ban texting while driving for young drivers only.

In states where officers can stop drivers just for textingstudies show that roadway deaths have gone down by about 3 percent, while hospitalizations decreased about 7 percent.

States where an officer must have another reason did not see significant reductions. In fact, among some age groups, these bans were linked to increases in crash-related fatalities and hospitalizations. This is perhaps because people in these states are holding their devices just a little lower than they otherwise would, so as not to be detected.

As lawmakers and other stakeholders consider what can be done to further address distracted driving as a public health crisis, enforcement of existing laws is an obvious first step. Given that texting bans are not aggressively enforced widely, it stands to reason that more serious attempts of enforcement may lead to safer roads.

Spring Break 2018: Death Toll Spike Will Make You Want to Stay at Home

Angel Reyes III Aside, In The News

The TSA expects an estimated 65 – 70 million travelers this Spring Break. The week-long escape from school and work has become a tradition for some, and almost a rite of passage for college students. It’s no surprise that as the number of spring breakers rise, so do the numbers of injuries and arrests. While the worst most may suffer on Spring Break is a sunburn and a hangover, for others the damage can be far more severe.

The death toll in traffic accidents at spring break destinations spikes 9.1% higher among drivers under 25. The CDC also warns that someone is killed every 31 minutes in a drunk driving accident during normal times; during spring break, those numbers increase by as much as 23%. Binge drinking and Spring Break, unfortunately, seem to go hand-in-hand. A study by the American College of Health reports the average male will consume 18 drinks a day and the average female 10 drinks during this vacation. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, during Spring Break 11% drink to the point of blacking out or passing out. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new study by researchers at the University of Miami found car-crash fatalities increase significantly at popular spring break destinations during the spring break season, from the end of February through early April .

The study, “Fast Times During Spring Breaks: Are Traffic Fatalities Another Consequence?” published in the journal Economic Inquiry, found the news is bad for everyone, including residents and other visitors of spring break hot spots, not just for the students who travel there for a weeklong break.

Examining fatal wrecks at 14 spring break destinations in seven states, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia, the study found:

  • Weekly death tolls in the 14 counties studied jumped 9.1 percent during spring break.
  • 16 more traffic fatalities annually in the 14 counties.
  • Car-crash deaths involving out-of-state motorists were significantly higher than for in-state drivers.
  • Fatal wrecks involving drivers under 25 years of age were more likely than deadly crashes connected with older motorists.
  • Even though spring break is usually filled with heavy drinking, no significant statistical difference could be found between fatal crashes involving impaired drivers and deadly wrecks involving non-impaired drivers.

Underscoring the spring break effect was the fact that the fatal accidents in the spring break hotspots disproportionately involved out-of-state drivers and no comparable increase in fatal accidents was reported in non-spring break counties during the same period.

Being vigilant is the best way to prevent a spring break car accident. Taking extra time to allow for travel issues on the road and making sure each person has an equal opportunity to get rest before taking over the wheel is the best way to avoid distracted or drowsy driving, too.

When visiting a new place, make sure that alternative travel plans have been made if you plan to be drinking. Having a designated driver is always an important plan, but relying on cabs or public transportation by booking it into your schedule in advance can help you avoid a drinking and driving situation. Check out all options before traveling so you know who to call when the time comes.

If out with other people who have been drinking and don’t realize how much they have consumed, have a plan for acquiring other transportation to help them. Never let a friend drink and drive. Overlooking your limit or allowing a friend to get behind the wheel could have serious consequences like major injuries or fatalities.

We want your and your loved ones Spring Break to be not only fun and memorable but safe! The CDC offers a list on how to help you stay safe.

Any one injured in a car accident caused by the fault of another driver may have a legal right to seek compensation from that at-fault driver’s insurance company. It’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable Dallas Texas car accident attorney review the specifics of the accident and explain your legal options.

Traffic Deaths Spiked in 2016, Including Pedestrians Killed

Angel Reyes III Aside, In The News

WASHINGTON — Traffic fatalities rose 5.6 percent last year, with the biggest spikes in pedestrian and motorcyclist deaths, the government said Friday, Oct. 6.

There were 37,461 people killed on U.S. roads in 2016 as Americans continue to drive more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. That’s the highest number of deaths since 2007.

The fatality rate was 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year.

Traffic deaths have been increasing since late 2014, as gas prices have fallen and people started driving more. In 2016, the total number of miles driven in the U.S. rose 2.2 percent.

Last year’s increase in deaths follows an 8.4 percent surge in deaths in 2015. The last time the U.S. had similar back-to-back increases of that magnitude was more than five decades ago.

Pedestrian deaths last year hit their highest level since 1990, with 5,987 people killed. That figure represents a 9 percent increase from the previous year.

Motorcyclist deaths were up 5.1 percent, reaching their highest level — 5,286 killed — since 2008.

Together, they accounted for more than a third of the increase in fatalities compared with 2015.

Pedestrians “are unprotected and, in most cases, outnumbered,” said Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council.

“We must not forget that the risks we are all facing extend to the sidewalks, too,” she said. “Everyone deserves safe passage, and these numbers are yet another indication that we must do more to keep each other safe.”

Bicycle deaths increased only slightly, 1.3 percent, but were at their highest number — 840 killed — since 1991.

Deaths related to distracted and drowsy driving declined. Those declines were more than offset by other dangerous behaviors, including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts, the safety administration said.

Data on fatalities attributed to distracted or drowsy driving have limitations. The information is drawn from police reports, but it’s not always obvious to police if a driver was distracted or fell asleep. Also, if it’s clear that a driver was at fault in a crash, police may not investigate further to determine if the driver was distracted or drowsy.

Traffic deaths declined significantly during the Great Recession and during the economic recovery as Americans cut back on their driving. Increased seat belt use, reductions in alcohol impairment, and improved auto safety equipment like air bags and electronic stability control also contributed to the decline.

The large increases in fatalities of 2015 and 2016 eliminated more than a third of the progress over the past decade in reducing the number of people killed on the roads each year.

Source: The Associated Press

Dallas Attorney Angel Reyes Wins Outstanding Latino Business Award

Angel Reyes III Aside, In The News

DALLAS – D CEO Magazine, of D Magazine, has awarded the 2017 Outstanding Latino Business (small business) award to noted attorney Angel Reyes III, founder of the Dallas-based Reyes Browne Reilley law firm.

For the second straight year, D CEO is honored to present the Latino Business Awards, a partnership between D CEO magazine and the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos. The awards recognize outstanding Latino leaders and companies and organizations in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“This sort of recognition is very important, not just to me but to our entire firm,” Reyes said. “It says that we are a thriving business, that we’re part of the larger business community, and that we haven’t forgotten our roots.”

Reyes formally accepted the award at The Latino Business Award reception on Aug. 31, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.

Among Reyes, other finalists in the category were Al Coker, of Al Coker & Associates LLC, and Guadalupe Mora, of Mora and Associates.

In addition to his successful law firm, Reyes is involved in numerous civic activities. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the board of directors member for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and Dallas Trial Lawyers Association.

Reyes earned his Masters in Business Administration from the Rawls School of Business at Texas Tech University after earning his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas.

Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas-based trial law firm that handles business litigation matters and life-altering personal injury cases.

For more information, contact Jason Hartline at (972) 503-4867, jason@reyeslaw.com or visit www.reyeslaw.com.

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States Now Teaching How To Survive While Driving Black

Angel Reyes III Aside, Auto Accidents

garmin-black-copy-300x160The editorial board of the New York Times recently published a piece exposing the absurdity of the necessity for states to educate African-American drivers on how to survive being pulled over by police officers.

“For generations, African-American parents have borne a special burden in mentoring their teenage children as they begin driving, having to say, be calm and extra polite when stopped by the police, and do nothing unexpected that could get you killed.

It’s horrifying that any parent has to have that conversation. But racial profiling by the police is a reality, and in these days of repeated and sometimes fatal highway confrontations, captured by cellphone videos, such warnings can be a matter of life and death.

Delegate Jeion Ward of the Virginia General Assembly is an African-American grandmother who has long heard her husband and three grown sons pass on sage guidance to the younger generation about what to do if stopped. When Ms. Ward heard her 39-year-old son telling her 17-year-old grandson the facts of real life for traffic stops, her concern grew and it ultimately resulted in a simple bill that was enacted into law this week.

Her measure requires that driver’s education courses for public schools specifically teach how to behave and interact with police officers in traffic stops. Illinois has enacted a similar measure, and Ms. Ward has heard from a half-dozen other states where lawmakers are considering her approach. The Virginia protocol is to be detailed after consultations involving motor vehicle, education and police officials.

Ms. Ward, with 14 years in the legislature, made no allusions to the current tensions between the police and black communities in her measure. But she doesn’t hide her inspiration. “My grandbaby!” she explained. “His name is Jermel but I call him the Grand Prince,” she said, laughing. “We gave him what we call The Talk. Other families, it may be about alcohol and drugs, but for us it’s about driving, and we decided it’s time to give him The Talk. I mean, what might happen to him? He can look so immature and be so silly,” she noted with affection.

It is absurd that states need to teach drivers how not to be killed by public servants, but unfortunately, the woeful experience of the black community makes Ms. Ward’s effort worthwhile. Her heartfelt summary of the new law’s lesson for drivers is: “Please don’t run; oh please don’t run. It’s so much in the news lately.”

Obviously, the police need lessons — and tougher training, discipline and oversight. At least the new Illinois law requires police officers to treat drivers with “dignity and respect” and provide their names and badge numbers when requested. In North Carolina, where a similar driver’s ed bill is under consideration, a police accountability group, SAFE Coalition NC, has called for a companion measure so “police officers can understand to control their emotions.” But that’s far from enough.

Ms. Ward said local police departments in her district in Hampton, Va., said they have traffic stop behavior rules for officers. “One chief said the driver is frightened when pulled over, but the officer approaching the car is just as frightened,” she said. “Of course, he has a gun.”

 

Sharing the Road with National Bike Month

Angel Reyes III Aside, Safe Driving

https://www.reyeslaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/xsharingtheroad-1024x682.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.URdRMJwEEp-300x200.jpgNational Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and has been celebrated across the country since 1956.  The third week in May is designated Bike to Work Week and the third Friday of May is Bike to Work Day.

As part of National Bike Month, the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm is encouraging to give biking a try, but more important, strongly inspiring motorists to watch for bicycles and educating motorists on the dangers of distracted driving and its effect on cyclist injuries and fatalities.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines, all bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.

In addition to your helmet, our friends at Folding Bike Zone recommend wearing/having all of the correct safety equipment:

  • Horn/Bell This is especially important for road cyclists as there may be pedestrians, other cyclists or motorbikes in the way at certain points in your journey; and it’s much easier to use your horn or bell to warn them than shouting at them, right?
  • Lights+reflectors Lights and reflectors are the main things which drivers will be able to see while they’re on the road. No matter where you are going make sure you have reflectors on the front and back of your bicycle and a headlight if you are riding at night

They went on to offer these easy ways to avoid accidents on your bicycle:

  • Signal properly and clearly If you’re preparing to turn a corner make sure you show all of the drivers around you by using the proper signals. If not how were they mean to know that you’re about to turn? If you don’t know the proper signals, a quick Google search could save your life.
  • Cycle in a straight lineThis one is pretty obvious, but don’t be going on the road and all over the place while cycling. Try to stay on the same path and nearby drivers will know where you’re heading and avoid that area.
  • Stay in the right-hand lane If the road is wide enough then make sure you are cycling in the right side of the lane, this is just a general cycling road rule. Also, try to stay in single file with other riders to make it easier for the driver to get past you. If the road isn’t wide enough then you’re allowed to cycle in the middle for increased visibility.

Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals and lane markings. Cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic when cycling in the street.

Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous and allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.

Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn, and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, each year about two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a helmet. Moreover, a staggering 494,000 people were required to go to an emergency room as a result of bicycle-related injuries in 2013.

If you’ve been in a wreck on your bike with a motor vehicle, your first priority is to seek the medical attention you need. If you were hurt in an accident and have the opportunity to make a claim against the other driver, seeking medical treatment will help you win your claim.

After you’ve seen your doctor and started treatment for your injuries, next will be to determine who is at fault for the accident. Whomever caused the wreck is also responsible for paying for the damages and injuries the wreck caused.

Texas has a modified comparative fault rule, meaning that fault can be split up between the two parties; however, if a cyclist is hurt in an accident with a motor vehicle and the cyclist was partially at-fault, the cyclist can still recover compensation from the driver’s insurance company. The only stipulation is that the driver has to be more responsible for the accident.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a bicycle accident in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, please call the skilled bicycle accident attorneys at the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm for a free consultation on your potential case.

Utah Adopts Strictest Drunk Driving Law in The Nation

Angel Reyes III Aside, Safe Driving

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Utah is moving toward adopting the nation’s strictest drunken-driving law under a measure to be signed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

The legislation lowers the standard from the current 0.08 blood-alcohol content level — used nationwide —  to 0.05 BAC. The drop means someone could be considered legally too drunk to drive after as little as a single strong drink, depending on their weight and tolerance.

“We’re not asking for Prohibition,” Herbert said during a Thursday press conference. “We’re hoping people take this as a cautionary note.”

The proposal has divided the tourist-dependent state, and Herbert said he’ll call a special legislative session later this summer to hash out additional details, including the exact implementation date. Some critics have urged Utah to delay rolling out the standard until other states act. Herbert hasn’t said when he’ll sign the law, which in its current form takes effect at the end of 2018.

The National Transportation Safety Board backs the new Utah law and recommends all states adopt the 0.05 standard, if not lower, arguing that stricter laws could save more nearly 1,800 lives annually. About 10,000 people die in alcohol-related accidents on U.S. roads annually, the NTSB said.

Utah was the first state to adopt the nation’s current .08 standard in 1983, and safety advocates say the Beehive State should once again lead by example. Herbert said 85% of the world’s population already lives under the .05 standard.

Most of Europe, including France and Italy, along with Australia, New Zealand and Iceland, uses the .05 standard. Experts say the first signs of alcohol impairment manifest around that level of intoxication.

Utah has a complicated history with alcohol: Members of the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, generally don’t consume alcohol, and the state has required non-Mormons to jump through logistical hoops if they want to drink alcohol in restaurants or bars. Some critics say the new law could make people think Utah is “weird,” something Herbert acknowledged he’s heard. Utah is 60% Mormon, and the church has a strong influence on the state’s politics and public life.

“There’s not many Mormons in Rome, and they do this, too,” Herbert said.

The Utah Restaurant Association opposes the change and plans to argue for revisions or delays in implementation. URA President Melva Sine said the new law imperils the state’s fast-growing economy. Liquor sales are usually a key profit maker for restaurants.

“Our concern is that we’re going to criminalize people who are going out to enjoy an evening,” Sine said. “We feel like it will change the social structure of our entire state.”

Herbert said people are free to drink as much as they want as long as they don’t get behind the wheel. But he acknowledged the concerns and said lawmakers would consider changes during the summer special session.

Alcohol is significantly less of a factor in fatal crashes in Utah than excessive speed and lack of seat belt use, state highway officials report. Of the nearly 200 drivers tested for impairment following a fatal crash last year, 57% were completely sober, 9% had alcohol in their system, 30% had some sort of drug in their system, and 4% tested positive for both drugs and alcohol, the Highway Safety Office said.

Acknowledging those statistics, Herbert said he wants to see lawmakers toughen penalties for distracted driving and increase enforcement of existing traffic safety laws.

Washington Drivers Banned from Hand-Held Devices

Angel Reyes III Aside, Safe Driving

Texting-while-drivingA Washington state measure to ban holding a phone while driving passed in the House a day after a similar measure passed in the Senate.

House Bill 1371 received a 52-45 vote in the Democratic-controlled House Tuesday.

Democratic Rep. Jessyn Farrell, the sponsor of the bill, said the measure is about safety and updating the current law “so that police officers can enforce this.”

Currently people are guilty of an infraction if they hold a phone to their ear while driving, or are caught text messaging.

Under the bill, drivers would be banned from holding any hand-held devices while driving including phones, tablets and other electronic devices, even while stopped in traffic. It would also double the fine, which is currently $136 if caught texting or holding a phone to the ear while driving for second and subsequent offenses within five years.

“We have an epidemic of using smartphones in our cars,” Farrell said. “We love our phones and can’t put them down while driving… You can still use that phone, but just don’t hold it in your hand.”

The new measure would allow the use of a finger to activate or deactivate a function of a device, such as using Siri on the iPhone, and the use of a built-in touch screen control panel within a vehicle to control basic functions like the radio or air conditioning.

Republican Rep. Morgan Irwin spoke in opposition to the bill because he said it creates a “class issue.” Irwin said he was concerned that some people, such as him, who might not have a car with a built-in touch screen and would be limited by this bill.

“We can have a car with a computer in its dash and use it all you want to, but if you can’t afford that car or you just have normal car then the only way to get directions to where you are going is to use that cellphone,” Irwin said.

Republican Rep. Dave Hayes also opposed the bill. He said he prefers to broaden the measure to include other dangerous distractions such as eating while driving, petting a dog in the back seat or putting on makeup. He said his main concern was that the bill only focuses on cellphones.

Exceptions to this new measure would include contacting emergency services, operating amateur radio stations and two-way or citizens band radio services and while operating tow trucks and other emergency vehicles.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 14 states currently ban any hand-held cellphone use while driving in a car; however, 37 states and D.C. ban all cellphone use by beginner or teen drivers, including Washington. Forty-six states prohibit texting messaging for all drivers.