Ban needed on cell phone use by younger drivers
BY World's Editorial Writers
Saturday, February 18, 2012
2/18/12 at 4:21 AM
Cell phone use among drivers younger than 18 would be banned under a measure by Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, whose bill passed the Senate Public Safety Committee last week.
All we can say is that it's about time.
A measure banning texting while driving for drivers of all ages except in cases of emergency would be even better.
In the meantime, the measure makes sense for younger drivers who have less experience on the road. Cell phone use already is limited for Oklahoma's youngest drivers.
For those who carp that such legislation takes away individual rights, there's an answer, says Crain: Driving is a privilege, not a right.
Distracted driving, whether it be from talking or texting on cell phones, is a proven safety hazard. In December, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all states ban drivers' use of personal electronic devices to text, talk or email.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens under the age of 18. If Crain's bill becomes law there's no question but that fatality rates for that age category of drivers would drop.
The measure was requested by the state Department of Health and some teenagers.
"I wanted to start with our least-experienced drivers and encourage them," Crain said. "They need to be paying full attention to the road and not be allowed a distraction like a cell phone to cause their attention to wander."
Oklahoma lawmakers have been slow to address distracted driving issues; some other states have had bans in place against texting and driving for years.
This is progress.
Original Print Headline: Cell phone use
A Senate measure bans cell phone use among drivers younger than 18. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file