Friday, June 02, 2006

Teenagers and Cell Phones

Teenagers would have to hang up their cell phones before they get behind the wheel in North Carolina under a bill making its way through the Senate. The measure (SB 1289), filed by Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, would levy court costs and an increased supervisory period for drivers under 18 caught talking on a cell phone, even with a hands-free device. A Senate judiciary panel held its second meeting on Thursday.

Drivers who use mobile phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash that would require a hospital visit than those who don’t, according to a study in a British medical journal last year. Since the graduated licensing program was adopted in 1997, statewide crashes involving 16-year-old drivers are down 34 percent, according to the fatality task force. However, motor vehicle deaths are the leading cause of death for North Carolina teens ages 15-17. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already banned mobile phone use for some teen drivers.

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