Amputee encourages more strict distracted driving laws


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 15 at 7:20 PM

AUSTIN-- With city leaders asking the city council to approve a hands-free driving ordinance, a victim of a distracted driving crash is encouraging the city to take action to get both hands back on the wheel.

Roger Chan, Austin's former assistant city manager, is in what he calls "transition." On his birthday on Thanksgiving in 2010, he was riding his motorcycle in front of Austin City Hall when he was hit by a distracted driver.

"Instead of stopping, he decided to drag me until my leg was sheared off," said Chan. "There was no way he did not know I was there, and there is no way he didn't know he hit me, except he wasn't paying attention."

The loss of his leg hasn't kept Chan off his motorcycle, which he calls his "pride and joy." The motorcycle has been modified so he can ride again.

"They hand-made this foot board to rest my prosthesis," Chan said, pointing out the new addition.

He said more must be done to encourage drivers to stay alert. Twelve states have passed laws banning handheld cell phone use while driving. Text messaging and driving is outlawed in 41 states. An Austin anti-texting ordinance went into effect in 2010, but now city leaders want to rewrite it.

Bianca Bentzin is the chief prosecutor for the city.

"What we can do is address in the law known risks, such as electronic devices that people are using while driving," said Bentzin.

She said they've been working on changes for about a year and hopes they decide to ban cell phone use while driving without a hands free device. The decision is up to the city council.
While some drivers say changing laws won't change actions, Chan reminds drivers distraction changed his life forever.

Go here or here for more information about distracted driving laws.

For studies regarding if hands-free devices are safer than handheld devices,

go here



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