Representative Phil Riesen (D – Millcreek, District 36) continues to fight for a restriction on cell phones in cars. Last year he was unsuccessful in passing a bill that would eliminate cell phone use for everyone (the bill was substituted in committee and died there), so he is trying again with HB 237, a bill that would restrict cell phone use in cars by minors.
Well, last year I said it was a good bill, and this year I will say the same.
Teenage drivers are already the most likely to be hurt or killed in car accidents, and the addition of cell phones only adds one more distraction. Even experienced drivers are more distracted when using a phone, let alone those who have been driving for two years or less. Those found guilty would be charged with a class C misdemeanor if an individual is found using a cell phone at the time of an accident and the driver could, potentially, loose their license.
Now this bill should not be confused with the text messaging bill that passed last year. The ban on text messaging applies to all drivers, this would simply make any use of a cell phone illegal to minors.
I would also like to point out that this bill is an example of how lawmakers constantly modify bills from year to year in order to reach a desired goal. Earlier today I discussed how Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck is expanding her bill due to its successful passage last year, well this bill is the opposite. Riesen, hoping to pass a bill that he feels does some good, is scaling his original bill in hopes that he can get some of his ideas on the books. Both of these actions are common in lawmaking as everything is a give or take – this is the process in action.
Hopefully this bill will pass and Riesen will be able to expand the law in the future.