Bill would raise fines for distracted driving in RI - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Bill would raise fines for distracted driving in RI

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Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has proposed raising fines for distracted driving.

"It's become a more serious issue with the proliferation of cell phones. Everybody has a cell phone today," Paiva Weed said Thursday.

Paiva Weed is proposing an increase in fines for distracted driving.

Under the new proposal, the fine for minors caught using a cell phone while driving would increase from $50 to $100 for the first conviction. A second conviction would see the fine increase from $50 to $150, and a third conviction would increase from $100 to $250 and may lead to a loss of license until the offender's 18th birthday.

"I think that it's very important to address young people because they're new drivers. They're not as experienced," Paiva Weed.

Paiva Weed is also trying to curb distracted driving by adults. The bill proposes increased fines for texting and driving for all operators. For the first offense, the fine increases from $80 to $100. The second offense would raise the fine from $100 to $150. And the third offense would raise the fine from $125 to $250.

"It is very hard for the police to enforce these laws, and it is important that police have all the tools they need to do that," Paiva Weed.

"If you're out there texting while driving, you're 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than if you're not," said David Raposa of AAA Southern New England.

According to AAA, 3,000 Americans are killed each year because of distracted driving, and 25 percent of all teens that are driving are distracted while behind the wheel.

"And if you're distracted because you're on the phone or texting or doing a dozen other things, it just increases your chances of being in a crash and in some cases, increases them dramatically," Raposa said.

The number of crashes due to distracted driving has gone down over the course of the past year.

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