I write to urge support for LD 165 “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving,” sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond.

As a motorcyclist, the bill is of particular importance. It clarifies distracted driving due to hand held electronic devices, as well as circumstances where hands-free electronic devices, such as GPS, may safely be used. It also sets meaningful financial penalties and defines behaviors which will lead to the loss of one’s driving privilege.

All people operating a vehicle on Maine roads should drive without distractions, including fellow motorcyclists. However, I have experienced a number of situations where inattentive car and truck drivers come too close to me and, surprisingly, even while stopped at lights. I always wear a fluorescent green riding jacket and helmet and do all I can to be noticeable to other drivers on the road.

I do not advocate for this bill on my experience alone. I ask others to consider Maine DOT’s “Highway Safety Facts 2018 Edition,” which shows for motorcyclists both a drop in the five-year average for crashes over a 10-year period, but an increase in fatalities. Almost the inverse is true for car and truck drivers, presumably due to ever-improving safety features in those vehicles.

My point is, motorcyclists, like bicyclists and pedestrians — even when doing all we can to be safe — rely on car and truck drivers to be vigilant while operating their vehicles.

John Painter, Lewiston

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