Teens Banned From Using Cell Phones?

Dennis Faas's picture

Driving is dangerous enough as it is. Add the distraction of cell phones to the equation and being on the road becomes more hazardous than ever. Now, a newly passed law is targeting the most inexperienced of those drivers -- teenagers -- by banning them from using their cell phones on the road. Even hands-free devices are considered off-limits.

"They're just learning to drive. They haven't learned to juggle tasks, and they're a lot more easily distracted," said California senator Joe Simitian. "We know that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and that cell phone use is the most common distraction." (Source: mercurynews.com)

Fifteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia are already on board. If California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs the bill, it will go into effect in his state next July.

"I introduced this bill for one simple reason," explained Simitian, "it will save lives."

Naturally, teenagers are questioning why this ban applies only to them. After all, reckless cell phone usage on the road is something adults are guilty of too. Aileen Smith -- a 17-year-old senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California -- is among the young dissenters. "If they're going to make a rule about talking on cell phones, it should apply to everyone," she said firmly. "[The law] won't stop me."

Smith is far from the only defiant teen. "There's no way a cop could see if you're texting under the steering wheel," according to Narin Leininger, a junior at Lowell High School in San Francisco.

Of course, not all teenagers are against this law. 16-year-old Minna Shmidt is a junior at Lowell High junior. She still has braces on her teeth and hasn't yet outgrown wearing her hair in braids -- but despite her childish outward appearance, she's wise beyond her years. "If you're thinking about your friends and what they're saying, you're not paying attention to the road conditions," she said sagely. (Source: yahoo.com)

This bill has one very surprising ally: the cell phone industry. "Sprint does not oppose this type of legislation," confirmed company spokeswoman Kathleen Dunleavy. "There have been other examples of this around the country."

However, Sprint does have some reservations: it opposes extending the ban to adults and feels that the bill "unfairly singles out" cell phones. "Drivers face numerous distractions," Dunleavy pointed out.

Still, despite Sprint's waffling, there is no denying that cell phone distractions are a danger to drivers everywhere.

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