North Carolina Senate OKs cell-phone ban for young drivers

| 6/16/2006

Young drivers in North Carolina would be required to hang up and drive under a bill that passed the state’s Senate.

The bill would prohibit drivers under age 18 from talking on any cell phone while behind the wheel. Violators would face a $25 fine and a six-month extension to their graduated license.

Young drivers would be allowed to call parents or make emergency phone calls.

Opponents say it’s unfair to single out young people when drivers of all ages can be distracted by phones and other things. Others say teens should still be allowed to use hands-free devices.

Supporters of the measure point out motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for North Carolina teens age 15 to 17. According to recent studies, motorists who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a vehicle collision, The Associated Press reported.

“The bill is about giving teenagers a chance to grow up,” Sen. William Purcell, D-Laurinburg, told The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. “This bill is about safety.”

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 bill – SB1829 – now heads to the House for consideration.