The North Carolina House has approved a bill that would require young
drivers in the state to hang up their cell phones and drive.
House lawmakers voted 89-22 Wednesday, July 12, to approve a bill that
would prohibit drivers under age 18 from talking on any cell phone, hand-held
or “hands-free,” while behind the wheel. Violators would face a $25 fine and a
six-month extension to violators’ graduated licenses.
No additional insurance points would be added for an infraction and
teens would be allowed to call parents, their spouse or make emergency phone
The bill – SB1289 – has been sent back to the Senate for approval of
changes. If approved there, it would head to Gov. Mike Easley’s desk.
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 ages 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, recently 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.