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1HomePageMap small ne 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

A bill to ban texting while driving, amended in October to make it a primary offense, passed the House on November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill.

The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, termed S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.”

“After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”

As he has for the previous 30 years, Sam Mikhail of Prestige Auto Body attended the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ)’s annual membership meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel of Clark in late October.

The Right to Repair Coalition announced October 21 that it has collected 106,658 voter signatures after just 19 days of effort, well exceeding the 68,911 required for the initiative to appear on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts.

According to the Right to Repair Coalition, the voter initiative would, for the first time, allow consumers to access all of the non-proprietary repair information required to have their vehicles repaired where they choose, at a new car dealership or an independent shop. The proposed law would level the playing field between the big car manufacturers' dealerships and independent, neighborhood repair facilities, allowing the latter to finally be able to access the same non-proprietary automobile diagnostic and repair information that is currently only available to the manufacturers’ dealers and their new car dealerships.

“It's time that car owners have the right to get our vehicles repaired wherever we choose,” said Jeff McLeod of Marshfield, one of the signers of the ballot petition. “The growing support for this issue shows how important it is for consumers, especially in a difficult economy.”

A bill to ban texting while driving, amended last week to make it a primary offense, passed the House November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said November 8.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill. The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, called S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.” “After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”

A new law in NJ (N.J.S.A.39:13-2.1)  amends the insurance coverage requirements for damage to property and for liability arising from bodily injury which an auto body repair facility must maintain for a full service license. The law reduces the minimum amount of garage keepers’ liability insurance that a shop must maintain from $300,000 to $50,000.

Full service licensed auto body facilities must still maintain insurance coverage for damage to property and for liability arising from bodily injury, including, but not limited to: eligible garage liability or equivalent commercial general liability insurance in a minimum amount of $300,000 or a letter of credit in the amount of $300,000; Garage keepers’ liability insurance in a minimum amount of $50,000 or a letter of credit in the amount of $50,000. Limited full service license applicants and licensees must also comply with these requirements.

“This will make the law fair to the shops by not forcing a small shop to purchase more insurance than it needs,” said Charles Bryant of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey, which proposed and supported the change.

New York State’s Suffolk County suffered the highest insured property loss among the 191 counties affected by Hurricane Irene, according to the latest estimate and reports made by Insurance Journal.

New Jersey, New York and North Carolina were the top three states with sustained insured property damage topping $500 million from Irene. Virginia and Maryland completed the top five. The estimate was prepared by insurance data provider Verisk Analytics and released on Oct. 17. Among the individual counties affected by Irene, Suffolk County, New York, was followed by Dare County, North Carolina—with more than $200 million of insured property damage in each—ranked first and second by insured damage. Completing the top five worst-hit counties from an insured property damage standpoint—with more than $150 million in damages in each—are Nassau County, New York; Monmouth County, New Jersey; and Worcester County, Maryland.

Overall, eight counties had estimated insured property damage in excess of $100 million.

Verisk Analytics’s estimate, called Verisk Catastrophe Index, was prepared for the District of Columbia and the 13 states and 191 counties within these states that were affected by Hurricane Irene.