Can A Driver Tape A Smart Phone To A Steering Wheel?

A truck driver in Nebraska created a whole new level of stupid.  He taped his smart phone to his steering wheel.  During a routine weigh-in stop, a state trooper spotted the 21-year-old commercial vehicle driver wearing headphones.  When the officer climbed into his commercial rig, he spotted the “unique” hands-free device and observed that the driver was in the process of web-streaming a soccer game!  The motorist was issued a traffic summons and paid a $200+ fine.

Believe or not, in New York, technically this Bozo’s actions were not illegal unless the driver touches the (but PLEASE do not get any ideas).  Under New York’s Vehicle And Traffic Law §1225-d, it is illegal to use an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.  This moving violation carries 5 points and roughly a $200 fine.

While a Smart phone is clearly an “electronic device”, a driver is not considered “using” it when it is affixed to a steering wheel or other surface (even if affixed using packing tape)  The term “using” means holding a portable electronic device while “viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.”  Because a driver is not “holding”  a phone that is taped to a steering wheel, he or she has not technically violated this New York law.

With this said, we do NOT recommend that you use such makeshift measures to hold a phone and we especially do NOT recommend that you web stream and watch videos while driving an automobile (let alone an 80,000 pound commercial truck). Please be careful out there and put your phones down.

 

Below is the text for the revised law in New York prohibiting texting and driving.

§1225-d. Use of portable electronic devices.

1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion.

2. For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(a) “Portable electronic device” shall mean any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.

(b) “Using” shall mean holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.

3. Subdivision one of this section shall not apply to (a) the use of a portable electronic device for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital; a physician’s office or health clinic; an ambulance company or corps; a fire department, district or company; or a police department, (b) any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties: a police officer or peace officer; a member of a fire department, district or company; or the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in section one hundred one of this chapter.

4. A person who holds a portable electronic device in a conspicuous manner while operating a motor vehicle is presumed to be using such device. The presumption established by this subdivision is rebuttable by evidence tending to show that the operator was not using the device within the meaning of this section.

5. The provisions of this section shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of a portable electronic device, unless otherwise provided by law.

6. A violation of this section shall be a traffic infraction and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred fifty dollars.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • It would seem to me that the headphones are a bigger violation than the device taped to the wheel (the visual distraction of the soccer game notwithstanding). Isn’t it illegal to have both ears covered by headphones?

    Reply
  • Trying to figure out if using a hand held microphone and talking on the CB radio is now considered illegal . . .

    Reply
    • Harold,

      In my opinion, using a mounted CB radio is not a violation of this law. Section 1225-d defines “Portable electronic device” as “any hand-held mobile telephone, *** personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.” In my opinion, a mounted CB radio does not fall within this definition.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply

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