Public hearing set for proposed hands-free ordinance

Ketchum could ban drivers from cell phone use
Posted at 9:47 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 11:47:02-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise City Council will hold a public hearing February 4, on a proposal brought forth by Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings regarding the adoption of a hands-free ordinance.

Traffic statistics provided by the Boise Police Department show that most of the traffic accidents in the city are due to some form of distracted driving. Currently, Boise Police officers cite under three code sections for distracted driving: inattentive driving, texting while driving and following too close.

Between 2016 and 2019, there were 4,444 citations issued under the following-too-closely statute. This citation is often issued after an accident has occurred, rather than being used as a deterrent. In that same period, the City issued 1,857 citations for violations of the inattentive-driving and texting-while-driving codes.

“The safety of our streets for people who walk, bike and drive is so important. This ordinance will work to make our streets safer and will have measurable impact on the number of accidents caused by the use of mobile devices,” said Woodings. “Thank you to the residents who have reached out and the Boise Police Department for their help and input.”

  1. The proposed ordinance would prohibit the use of mobile devices by the driver of a car, unless it’s in hands-free mode or the individual is exempt. Mobile-device use would be allowed while driving under limited circumstances, including but not limited to:
  2. when the vehicle is parked or otherwise pulled off or to the side of a roadway
  3. to report an emergency to a law enforcement or emergency provider
  4. used by a first responder during performance of their official duties
  5. used by an operator of a commercial vehicle in accordance with federal regulations.

If approved, the City of Boise intends to move forward first with community education. During the education phase, law enforcement would only issue warnings for violations. The date for the issuance of citations would be determined at later time.

The public hearing will take place at the regular 6 p.m. City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in the Maryanne Jordan Council Chambers at Boise City Hall.