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Both hands on the wheel, Alaskans: No more driving and texting

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
istockphoto

Consider yourselves warned, chronic texters and Facebookers.

Governor Sean Parnell on Thursday signed into law a bill that bans texting and other kinds of non-voice communication while driving in Alaska.

The bill aims to clarify a flaw in previously existing texting while driving ban, a flaw identified by a magistrate in a recent case.

The bill added some language to AS 28.35.161, which in part now reads:

A person commits the crime of driving while texting, while communicating on a computer, or while a screen device is operating if the person is driving a motor vehicle, and ..."

the person is reading or typing a text message or other nonvoice message or communication on a cellular telephone, personal data assistant, computer, or any other similar means capable of providing a visual display that is in the view of the driver in a normal driving position while the vehicle is in motion and while the person is driving.

The new law does not make voice communications on those same devices illegal, just typing or reading.

It also includes an exemption for police, fire or emergency vehicles "if the user of the equipment or device reasonably believes the information on the device is necessary to respond to a health, safety, or criminal matter."

Check out the full revisions on the Alaska Legislature's BASIS system, here.