A bill targeting the use of cell phones amongst teenage drivers has passed a second Senate reading by 19 to 9 as of Monday. The bill, which was sponsored by Ross Romero, the Senate Minority Leader, puts restrictions on the use of cell phones by teenagers who are also operating a motor vehicle. According to Romero, the bill will be an extension of Utah’s Graduated License program, which allows teenagers under the age of 18 to have driving privileges incrementally. The bill bans teenagers from talking on cell phones while operating a motor vehicle unless they are talking to parents or are in an emergency situation. New drivers are already limited by passenger restrictions, nighttime driving rules and supervision.
“Those with the least experience driving a motor vehicle should have their focus on learning on how to operate a motor vehicle,” Romero says. “If you are under 18 and you get into an automobile accident, you cause property damage or injure other people (and) the parent is responsible for that.”
The bill is backed by statistical evidence relating to the use of cell phone use while driving, with state statistics from just last year showing that 50 percent of high school students have admitted to talking on their cell phones while operating a car. As of 2010, 15 to 19 year olds had the highest rate of property damage, crashes and injuries of all driving groups.