HARTFORD, CT — Verizon Wireless today promoted the responsible use of wireless phones in vehicles by motorists at a hearing in the state capitol.
The announcement came during a public hearing before the Transportation Committee regarding state legislation proposed by State Representative Richard Roy (D-Milford). Verizon Wireless' advocacy is part of their Responsible Driving Action plan.
At today's hearing, Dan Mullin, director of State Public Policy for Verizon Wireless testified the company supports statewide hands-free legislation if there is broad-based support, that focuses on customer safety and incorporates the following criteria:
· It must recognize the safety value of wireless devices; in 2000, for example, more than 118,000 calls were made daily across the country to 9-1-1 from wireless phones. · It must explicitly exempt emergency calls.
· The state law must ensure complete uniformity across Connecticut.
· Similar to the seat-belt law, this hands-free legislation must have a three-year "phase-in" period, to allow consumers to upgrade their handsets to ensure hands-free capability, and to provide handset manufacturers additional research and development time to make hands-free capability more widely available at a lower price
· The state law must assess penalties equivalent to current distracted driving infractions.
"Verizon Wireless' has taken a leadership role in promoting responsible driving through the use of hands-free technology, education, and when appropriate, state-wide legislation," said Mullin. "We applaud Rep. Roy for raising this issue and the transportation committee for holding this hearing to seek ways to promote responsible driving on Connecticut's roads."
At the hearing, Mullin also unveiled the company's Responsible Driver Action plan that emphasizes the commitment to responsible driving practices by customers and employees. This plan includes:
· Requiring handset manufacturers to produce wireless phones with voice-activated dialing and a universal jack to enable connection with an assortment of headsets;
· Showcasing available hands-free equipment in each of the company's 13 Communications Stores across the state through a display panel entitled "Accessories With Safety in Mind";
· Incorporating a responsible driving component in company advertising, customer communications and on its website;
· Training sales and customer service teams about the importance of promoting hands-free devices;
· Providing new employees who operate company vehicles with a defensive driving course and a refresher class every three years.
· Supporting legislation at the state level to require the use of hands-free devices while driving.
"Enacting state-wide hands-free legislation would recognize the benefits of wireless technology while addressing the need for an increased focus on responsible driving in Connecticut." Mullin said.
Editor's Note: Mr. Mullin's testimony is attached.
About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S., with 27.5 million wireless voice and data customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. -- now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 38,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.