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N.H. hands-free law takes effect July 1

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- A new law in the state will soon prohibit motorists from using any hand held electronic device capable of providing voice or data communication on N.H. roadways, 157th Air Refueling Wing safety officials want Airmen to know.

Because many 157 ARW Airmen don't live in N.H., Senior Master Sgt. James Roberts encourages commanders, first sergeants and supervisors to discuss the new law to members of the organization during the May and June Unit Training Assembly.

"Because so many of our Airmen don't reside in New Hampshire, and may not be familiar with the new law, it's important that supervisors educate their folks on it," said Roberts, Safety Office ground safety manager. "This law is an important step in keeping our roads safe from distracted drivers"

The law, which takes effect July 1, will result in fines for a first offense, second offense and third offense in three years.

According to the N.H. State Police, penalties for the first offense is a $100 fine; second offense is a $250 fine; and a third offense within two years will result in a $500 fine.

According to the N.H. Department of Transportation, during the past four years, 116 fatal crashes have been caused by distracted drivers in N.H.

"Clearly an increase in the use of electronic devices is becoming the primary reason of that distraction," Roberts said.

Safety officials highlighted that while texting a driver is 23 times more likely to crash. Sending a text or receiving a text, distracts the driver for nearly five seconds - seconds that could result in traveling the length of a football field.

"Devices prohibited from use include cell phones, GPS, tablets, iPods, iPads or other devices that require data entry," said Roberts. "Bluetooth or other hands-free electronic devices will be allowed."

Emergency calls to 911 or other public safety agencies will be allowed.

"In addition to speaking to Airmen, I encourage parents to have the conversation with their families," Roberts said. "Teen drivers under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use any electronic device except to report an emergency."

The 157 ARW safety office notes there are three types of distracted driving: Visual, manual and mental.

Visual distraction is doing something that requires the driver to look away from the road. A manual distraction requires doing something that will result in a driver taking their hands of the steering wheel. A mental distraction results in a driver thinking hard about something other than driving.

"Texting involves all three of these distractions, which makes it incredibly dangerous for drivers," Roberts said.

For more information, contact the Safety Office at 603-430-2345.
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