Bill crashes; teens can still use cellphones while driving

Mar 12 2013 - 8:26pm

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(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Legislation banning teens from using a cellphone while driving has been killed in the Senate.

Senators voted 11-13 Tuesday afternoon to defeat HB 103, which would have implemented a ban on cellphone use for drivers ages 16 and 17. The bill would have made the offense a misdemeanor.

House sponsor Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, said the legislation isn't completely dead.

He has some hope the bill will be recalled and voted on again. The lawmaker notes four key supporters of the legislation were off the floor when the vote was taken.

Pressed on the changes for a recall, Perry showed a small gap between his thumb and index finger.

Debate on the topic in the Senate was surprisingly sparse.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said he supported the concept of the bill but that it was unnecessary legislation.

"I don't think it's good policy," Thatcher said of the proposed ban.

Senate sponsor Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said the intent of the legislation was to change the attitude of teens toward the seriousness of driving and using a cellphone at the same time.

He called the potential ban part of the education process for young drivers.

A University of Utah study shows a teen on a cellphone is as impaired as a person driving with a 0.8 alcohol level, Perry said.

Perry has described the measure as a best practice intended to reduce the number of accidents involving distracted teen drivers.

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