in the Wisconsin Legislature that was intended to cut cell phone use by young
drivers has died.
by Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, the measure – AB120 – remained in the
Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee when the session ended
this month. The Assembly approved it in December.
bill would have prohibited drivers under age 18 from talking on cell phones
while behind the wheel when they have an instruction permit or are within the
first nine months of holding a probationary license. It would have exempted
emergency phone calls.
chatting on the phone while driving would have faced a $50 fine. Repeat
offenders would have faced up to a $100 fine.
cell phone provision would have been added to other restrictions under Wisconsin’s graduated driver’s license program. Existing rules prohibit probationary
license holders under age 18 from driving unsupervised between midnight and 5
a.m. and transporting more than one passenger in the vehicle under age
18 unless they are relatives.
The effort advanced through the Assembly about the same time
a National Transportation Safety Board report recommended novice drivers be
prohibited from using cell phones while on the road.
The safety board said that young drivers account for only 7
percent of the driving population but are involved in 15 percent of fatal
accidents. Distracted drivers take 1.5 seconds longer to respond to hazards,
the agency said.
Currently, about 10 states forbid young drivers to use
phones while behind the wheel. Only Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have
bans on all drivers from using hand-held phones.
The effort in Wisconsin could be reintroduced in the
legislative session that begins in January 2007.