Oklahoma bill to restrict young drivers' cell phone use dies

| 4/21/2006

A bill has died that was intended to minimize cell phone use by young drivers in Oklahoma.

Sponsored by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, the measure remained in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee April 6, the deadline to advance to the full House for further consideration. The Senate had approved it in March.

The bill – SB1542 – called for prohibiting drivers under age 18 from talking on cell phones while behind the wheel when they have a learner’s permit. Violators would have faced a fine up to $100.

Young drivers would have been allowed to use a “hands free” device or make emergency phone calls.

Jolley said it is important for new drivers to focus on the road instead of their cell phones.

“We’ve seen recent studies that discuss the high incidence of accidents by young drivers and the high correlation to the use of cell phones and the distraction that causes,” Jolley said in a written statement prior to the bill missing the legislative deadline.

He pointed out that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that motorists who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a vehicle collision.

“It seems obvious that new drivers don’t need to be taking additional risks by trying to drive while making calls on a cell phone,” Jolley said.

The effort likely will have to wait until lawmakers convene the next regular legislative session in May 2007.