Bill targets teen cellphone use. But is it enough?

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 8:00 p.m. MST

Joren Carlson, a Junior at West High School, said he understands why those in his age group are the focus of the legislation.

"I think (the proposed law) cuts one factor out of distracted driving," he said. "I think that's legitimate because teenagers are more likely to be distracted while driving so it's good to cut out at least one factor."

But his friend and fellow West High junior Jonah Katz, said he thinks it's not enough to simply focus on teenagers.

"I think that it would be more appropriate to get rid of talking (on a cell phone) and driving altogether. I think that's still very dangerous whether or not you're 18," Katz said. "Regardless of age, it's still a hazard."

Ultimately, the goal is to keep teenage drivers safe, Romer said. He cited the Jan. 14 death of Taylor Sauer, an 18-year-old college freshman at Utah State University who was killed when her car collided into a slow-moving semitrailer. Her family believes messages she sent on Facebook minutes before the crash confirmed the role of cellphones and social media in Sauer's death.

"It's really about saying, it’s against the law, it makes good policy, you're just learning how to drive and driving accidents are a leading cause of death for our youth," Romero said. "I'd like to see (teenagers) grow into adults and have productive successful lives and so if this is something we can do to help them be mindful of the importance of driving ... I thought we should work on it."

Kim Wallace, one in a line of many parents arriving at East High School to pick up her two sons, called the bill smart, but questioned its origins.

"It's a good idea, but I really think it's a shame that we have to have the government regulate these things," she said.

"It's common sense," her son, Trevor, 17, said. 

The bill is scheduled for discussion Friday by the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee.

Contributing: Peter Samore, Mike Anderson

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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