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Salt Lake City – A new Utah law takes effect today banning teen drivers from using a cell phone while driving. House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry and Senate sponsor, Lyle Hillyard, is intended to protect new drivers from distraction as they develop and hone their driving skills.
The new law prohibits drivers up to 18 years of age from talking on a cell phone, but there are exceptions designed to maintain safety. These exceptions include using a cell phone to report a medical or safety hazard, to request assistance related to a safety hazard, to report criminal activity, to request assistance related to a criminal activity or to communicate with a parent or legal guardian. The fine for teen cell phone use is $25, it is a non-reportable violation, and points will not be assessed against the teen’s driving record.
This is the newest law directed at teen drivers. Previous laws include the graduated driving laws, a passenger limitation component and a nighttime ban for new drivers. According to the Utah Highway Safety Office’s 2010 Utah Crash Summary, teen fatal crashes have declined 53 percent since the first graduated driver licensing law was enacted.
“Even though teen fatal crashes have been reduced through teen driving laws, we know young drivers are still overly represented in crashes,” said Rep. Lee Perry, bill sponsor and Highway Patrol lieutenant. “Teens make up 8 percent of the drivers but were in 21 percent of all crashes in Utah. This law addresses a major safety concern we have with young drivers. We know from recent surveys that the majority of high school students admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.”
“Cell phone use is the leading driver distraction in Utah,” said Sen. Hillyard, Senate sponsor of the bill. “A number of businesses recognize this and are now banning their employees from using a cell phone while driving on company business. This new cell phone law, coupled with the anti-texting law, will help keep driver distractions at a minimum, resulting in safer roads for all Utahns.”