The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 139
Allow Screen Devices In Utility Vehicles
“Providing for an exception to allow drivers of public utility motor vehicles to operate those vehicles with certain screen devices operating and visible to the drivers.”
Posted: March 9, 2009
Status: Chapter 42 SLA 09 : 2009-06-20
HB 139 is a fix-it bill to correct an oversight in HB 88 that passed in the 25th Legislature. HB 88 prohibits the driver of an automobile from having a screen device, such as a television, video monitor, portable computer, or similar device, operating within their view while the automobile is in motion. Exceptions were made in HB 88 for cell phone usage for verbal communication, navigation or global positioning, maps, etc. HB 88 also recognized that the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities may need to access a screen device in their automobiles while performing highway construction, maintenance or repair, and included an exception for those activities; however, HB 88 failed to include an additional exception for public utilities.
This legislation would provide public utilities with similar access for maintenance, repair, or data acquisition in order to perform their duties. As an example, meter readers for a gas company no longer physically exit their car to collect usage information; instead the information is collected by interrogating the meter as the meter reader drives past the location. The drivers need to verify as they drive by a home, for example, that the data is being collected. More importantly, if there is a gas leak, the driver will see on his screen device that there is a problem with the line as he drives by the point of leak. Finally, the drivers also receive messages from police and fire departments in the case of an emergency where a gas line would need to be shut off. Other public utilities, as defined in AS 42.05.990, have similar reasons for needing access to a screen device in performance of their duties.
HB 139 is intended to correct this oversight and provide public utilities an exception in order to allow them to fully perform their job functions.