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Teen driver cellphone ban days away from becoming law

By Jed Boal | Posted - May 10th, 2013 @ 8:58pm

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MURRAY — It's time to ignore the ring: Utah's teen driver cellphone ban becomes law in less than a week. Adults can still talk on their cellphones behind the wheel, but beginning May 14, drivers under 18 will have to put them away or face a fine.

A group of 17-year-olds in Murray shared their feelings on the new law Friday. On one hand, the teens understand that talking and driving is dangerous, but they're also not so sure that their peers will change their phone habits.

"I don't drive with any friends who text. I'm not big on that, but I think for the most part everyone talks on the phone while they drive," said teen driver Jake Shapiro.

So, the teen cellphone ban means a change of habit until they're 18.

"I think it's good, but I don't know how they're going to enforce it," said Alex Butterfield, also a teen driver.

The objective of the law is to protect new drivers from distractions as they develop their driving skills.

"It's definitely distracting. Sometimes I even forget I'm driving," Shapiro said.

The teens said they're serious about not texting while driving.

"If we're driving, and the driver is texting, usually the rest of us in the car will be like, ‘Stop texting!'" said Annie Cowden.

Still, they're not so sure they'll always obey the new law.

"If my mom calls me, I feel like I'll answer still," Cowden said.

Actually, talking to a parent or legal guardian would still be legal under the new law. Teens can also use the phone to report a medical or safety hazard, or to report a crime. Anything else means a $25 fine, but no points against their record.

"It's a lot," Butterfield said. "We're on high school budgets, but it's not as bad as the texting fine."

That fine is more than $300.

But the young drivers are getting the message.

"Most accidents happen in your first few years," Butterfield said. "I've been in one. I wasn't using the phone, but it just takes that much more attention off of driving and on the phone."


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