Georgia may scrap ‘get out of jail free card’ for distracted driving

Motorists cited for handling their cellphones while driving can bring a receipt for a hands-free device to court, and a judge must dismiss the citation. The idea is to encourage drivers to buy dash mounts or other technology that allows them to comply with the Hands-Free Georgia Act, which prohibits motorists from handling their cellphones or other electronic devices while driving. State lawmakers call the provision the “get out of jail free card.” And though it’s hard to determine how much it’s used, prosecutors and judges say it’s common in their courts. Now the General Assembly may eliminate the provision as it debates whether to raise fines for distracted driving.

Oak Brook, IL (Chicago suburb) police chief’s study indicates red-light cameras have led to more crashes at Route 83 and 22nd Street

Crashes at the intersection of Route 83 and 22nd Street have increased since Oakbrook Terrace had red-light cameras installed and activated in two directions in 2017, according to a study just completed by Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger. The cameras, for southbound traffic on Route 83 and eastbound traffic on 22nd Street, have been controversial since before they were activated and recently were part of reports about corruption involving former State Senator Martin Sandoval, who was chairman of the state’s Transportation Committee.

NYC’s “Vison Zero” Crackdown Impounds 160 Cars; War on Drivers Intensifies (War on Cars Watch)

New York City is not very friendly for those who drive. Under the regime of Mayor de Blasio parking tickets have become a popular revenue generator and the recent “Vision Zero” crackdown resulted in 160 cars being towed. The NY Post Reported: “at least 160 scofflaw drivers — together owing millions in violations — had their vehicles towed in Brooklyn during a Vision Zero crackdown Friday, according to deputies from the city’s Sheriff’s Office” Many drivers register their cars out of state to evade New York fees including up to more than $50 a year, levied according to the weight of the car — but also a $5.50 license plate fee, a $5 title fee and a $15 annual city tax. Drivers can save big money by buying and registering a car in a state with lower or no sales tax on auto purchases. New Yorkers pay 8.25% of a cars price at purchase. The NY Post reported on the crackdown: “More than 100 deputies and workers at a private license plate scanning company swept major streets in the borough (Brooklyn) between noon and roughly 8:30 p.m.” Parking tickets and other driving infractions are major revenue generators in New York City. In 2016 the City raked in $545 million off the backs of drivers. De Blasio is constantly looking for new ways to impound vehicles and assail drivers.

Columbia, MO: Vision Zero looks like a distant goal after last year’s spike in pedestrian deaths (Vision Zero Watch)

Seven pedestrians lost their lives in seven separate crashes across Columbia in 2019. That’s more than double the annual number in any year since 2002, the oldest data available on the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s website. The exact reason for the increase is unknown, but it follows a disturbing nationwide trend: From 2008 to 2017, there was a 35% increase in pedestrian deaths nationwide, and pedestrian deaths in Missouri hit a 10-year high in 2019.

Massachusetts: A Big Tax Break for the Trucking Industry Hides in the House Transportation Bill

The bill’s proposal to eliminate sales taxes on trucks is forecast to cost $9 to $11 million annually in lost revenue to the Commonwealth’s Transportation Trust Fund.