ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB011 (2009)

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ARLB011 ARRL Executive Committee Issues Mobile Amateur Radio
Operation Policy Statement

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ARRL Bulletin 11  ARLB011
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  February 3, 2009
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB011
ARLB011 ARRL Executive Committee Issues Mobile Amateur Radio
Operation Policy Statement

On January 30, at the instruction of the Board of Directors at its
January 2009 meeting, the ARRL Executive Committee adopted a policy
statement on mobile Amateur Radio operations. The statement
addresses the growing number of proposed state and local laws and
ordinances regulating the use of cellular telephone and text
messaging, inadvertently affecting Amateur Radio mobile
communications.

In its statement, the Executive Committee urges state and municipal
legislators to limit the scope of their proposals, limiting them to
devices such as full duplex wireless telephones and related
hand-held or portable equipment. Alternately, it suggests that
licensed Amateur Radio operation be listed specifically as an
exclusion to the proposed regulations.

"At the start of each new session, you see a flurry of this type of
proposal in state legislatures across the country," said ARRL
Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND.

As of February 1, 2009, Henderson said that the ARRL is aware of
proposals in 11 states: Georgia, Hawaii Idaho, Illinois, Iowa,
Maine, Montana, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming, as well as
several local city or town proposals.

"These proposals are usually intended to regulate cellular telephone
and text messaging by drivers as a matter of safety but, when they
are written in very broad terms, can include Amateur Radio mobile
operations in the 'net' they cast," Henderson continued. "The
Executive Committee's policy statement gives a good, concise
background of the role the Amateur Service plays in public safety
and service communications. It also highlights the differences
between communications conducted by cellular telephone and those
using Amateur Radio. Finally, the statement offers some suggested
statutory language for state motor vehicle codes which would protect
Amateur Radio mobile operation."

The ARRL recognizes that driver inattention is a leading cause of
automobile accidents. The policy statement raises the fact that cell
phones utilize full duplex communications -- where the user is
talking and listening simultaneously. The Executive Committee
statement says "Two-way radio use is dissimilar from full-duplex
cellular telephone communications because the operator spends little
time actually transmitting; the time spent listening is more similar
to, and arguably less distracting than listening to a broadcast
radio, CD or MP3 player. There are no distinctions to be made
between or among Amateur Radio, public safety land mobile, private
land mobile or citizen's radio in terms of driver distraction. All
are distinguishable from mobile cellular telephone communications in
this respect."

The ARRL Policy Statement also recognizes the responsibility of the
amateur community to conduct its activities in a manner that does
not create unsafe operation of their motor vehicle. "Safety has to
be a top concern at all times," Henderson concluded.

The ARRL Policy Statement can be found on the web at,
http://www.arrl.org/govrelations/MobileAmateurRadioPolicyStatement.pdf.
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