Friday, April 24, 2009

Oregon to ban mobile amateur radio

I've discovered another state seeking to ban mobile amateur radio operation. This time, it's Oregon (link courtesy BikePortland.org). As with several other attempts by state legislatures to ban cellphone operation while driving (for example, Virginia's), this bill reaches far beyond just cell phones to ban the use of any "mobile communication device", presumably because they want to ban texting as well as talking, and using a laptop. What's especially interesting is the exemptions (quoted from the text):
(3) This section does not apply:
(a) To a person who is summoning medical or other emergency
help if no other person in the vehicle is capable of summoning
help;
(b) To a person using a mobile communication device for the
purpose of farming or agricultural operations
(c) To a person operating an ambulance or emergency vehicle; or
(d) To a person using a hands-free accessory.
So ambulance drivers, firetruck drivers, and marked (but not unmarked) police car drivers are excluded, but truckers, taxi drivers, volunteer firemen (in their personal vehicles), and amateur radio operators are not. What's interesting to me is the exemption for farmers, which makes no sense from any public safety purpose, but is clearly there merely because the farmers got to the committee before the bill got out. From various comments by legislators and others behind this bill, it's obvious they haven't thought about this much at all.

I've dropped a note to Bonnie Altus (AB7ZQ), the ARRL Oregon Section Chair, asking her what the ARRL is doing to ensure that Oregon doesn't ban mobile amateur operation.