Young drivers in North Dakota would have to put away their
cell phones if a state lawmaker gets his way.
Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, has introduced a bill that
would prohibit drivers under age 18 from talking on cell phones - even
"hands-free" devices - while behind the wheel. Emergency calls would be
The bill is intended to ban talking, text messaging and
using e-mail while driving, Klemin told The
Young drivers found in violation would face $20 fines and
four penalty points on their driver's licenses. The penalty points could be of
particular trouble for drivers under 18 who will have their license revoked and
be forced to start over with driver education and training if they accumulate
six or more points.
This effort follows a National Transportation Safety Board
report that recommended novice drivers be prohibited from using cell phones
while on the road.
The safety board says 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 says.
Currently, 13 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. In 2008, California is slated to
implement their own rule that will prohibit all drivers from talking on
hand-held phones while driving.
Klemin's bill - HB1196 - is in the House Transportation