Texting bill stuck on details

Assembly Transportation Committee members were asked Thursday to endorse a Senate-approved plan to prohibit Nevada motorists, including police and emergency personnel, from text-messaging on cell phones while behind the wheel.

"I can't tell you how many times I have been on the highway next to someone who is too focused on typing something into their cell phone to concentrate on where they're going," said the bill sponsor, Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson. "I'm sure you all agree that this creates unsafe conditions for everyone on the road."

Erin Breen, director of the Safe Community Partnership Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that in recent months the American Safety Council and the American Medical Association have called for a nationwide ban on texting.

Critics questioned how the bill would be enforced, stating that it would be impossible to tell whether drivers were using cell phones to send a text message, dial a phone number or download directions on a map.

"The matter of enforcement is important, but I don't think we should hold up making it illegal because the enforcement isn't perfect," said Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas. "If making it illegal would make it happen a lot less, I'd be happy with that."

Las Vegas Metro Police Lt. Tom Roberts conceded after the meeting that there were details to be worked out.

"There could be a problem with enforcement," Roberts said. "The intent is to curb the instance of people while driving, and to educate them. Our belief is that this bill would bring attention to the problem."

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