Colorado Senate panel backs handsfree talking |

Colorado Senate panel backs handsfree talking

DENVER, Colorado ” A bill requiring drivers to use handsfree devices while talking on their cell phones passed its first committee vote in the Colorado Senate on Monday.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee backed the measure in a 3-2 vote. All Democrats voted for it, and all Republicans against it.

Adult drivers would be required to use handsfree devices while driving under the measure (House Bill 1094). Drivers under 18, as well as bus and taxi drivers, wouldn’t be able to talk or text on cell phones at all.

Violators would be fined $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.

The mother of Erica Forney, a 9-year-old Fort Collins girl hit by a driver suspected of talking on her cell phone, urged lawmakers to pass the bill. Erica Forney died on Thanksgiving, two days after the crash.

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“It took two seconds for her to look down, that was it, and take my daughter’s life,” Shelley Forney said of the woman who hit her daughter. “I will never get her back. Our family is never going to be the same.”

Verizon Wireless and the Colorado State Patrol also back the bill, which has already passed the House.

It now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for another vote because the bill would take in an estimated $447,000 in new fines. That’s based on violations seen in Connecticut after a similar law was passed there.

The state would also have to spend an estimated $125,000 if the bill passes. Of that, $86,000 would buy handsfree headsets for state transportation and correction workers who drive frequently, and $39,000 would be spent to process the new tickets.

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