Coalition Provides Testimony in Support of Safer Driving
On February 27th, 2015, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine provided testimony before the Maine State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation in support of two bills that would limit the use of cell phones while driving.
Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine
February 27, 2015
Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 185 – An Act To Prohibit the Use of a Mobile Telephone When Operating a Motor Vehicle Except in Hands-free Mode and LD 246 – An Act To Prohibit the Handling of a Mobile Telephone While Operating a Motor Vehicle
On behalf of the board and more than 5,000 individual members of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I submit testimony in support of LD 185 and LD 246. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. We work to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. Improving safety is a big part of improving bicycling in Maine and we feel the use of mobile devices by car drivers has created new hazards for bicyclists and pedestrians.
You may hear statistics from other stakeholders today, but when you see what we see while riding our bicycles, you don’t really need numbers. From our vantage point, we see up-close the huge proportion of drivers that are texting or using their mobile devices. It is quite astonishing. Because of the level at which we sit, and because of our proximity to the vehicle drivers, we also see first-hand how little attention cell phone users are giving the road and the other users of it – like people walking and riding bikes. It’s not hard to understand why driver inattention leads to 8 out of 10 of all crashes and 65% of all near-crashes.
A bicyclist is extremely vulnerable to distracted drivers. The average car weighs four to five thousand pounds. People riding bikes or walking have no protection against that much steel and glass. The faster the car is going, the worse our vulnerability. If a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car going 20 miles per hour, there is a 95% chance of survival. If a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a vehicle going 40 mph, there is less than a 20% chance of survival. Texting while driving increases the risk of crashing by a factor of over 20.
Research involving driving simulators and eye trackers has shown that when drivers are texting or otherwise cognitively distracted, their peripheral vision and ability to scan the full road is impacted. They don’t see the bicyclists and pedestrians on the edges of the road as well as they would if they weren’t distracted. They don’t see the road users who are most at risk if a crash occurs.
For these reasons I urge the committee to support LD 185 and LD 246. Prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving will remove some of the most common and fatal hazards for bicyclists and pedestrians on Maine roads.
 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), “The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk.” January 2004. Accessed 2/26/15 at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Distracted+Driving+at+Distraction.gov/Breakthrough+Research+on+Real-World+Driver+Behavior+Released
 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Literature Review on Vehicle Travel
Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries” October 1999. Accessed 2/26/15 at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/pub/HS809012.html
 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, July 2009. Accessed 2/26/15 at http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2009/07/2009-571.html