Another update on the continuing debate over texting and driving: The Rhode Island Department of Transportation and its Office of Highway Safety is letting residents know that texting behind the wheel is now illegal in the state. Gov. Donald Carcieri signed the anti-texting legislation into law on Monday, Nov. 9.
Violators caught and convicted of texting while driving will get an $85 fine for the first offense, a $100 fine for the second offense, and a $125 fine for the third offense. The Rhode Island DOT has plans to alert drivers of this law by running ads, using its highway variable message signs, putting information on social media sites, and reaching out to universities to let students know about the change.
“Driver inattention is a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes, and texting has been one of the most egregious forms of it,” says RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “This law will help put a driver’s eyes back on the road where they should be. While this law helps us save lives, RIDOT is continuing to work toward a primary seat belt law. Doing so would prevent serious injuries and save even more lives while providing Rhode Island an additional $3.7 million in transportation infrastructure and highway safety funds.”