BOISE -- The House Transportation Committee debated a bill Tuesday that would restrict cell phone use for some teen drivers. However, the idea was met with some opposition from House representatives.
House bill 155 would prohibit teen drivers from using a cell phone during the six-month supervised instruction permit.
Just last year, the legislature passed a law that banned texting while driving and during Tuesday’s afternoon transportation hearing, lawmakers voiced concern over the two bills looking too similar.
Chairman Representative Joe Palmer voted against HB 155 saying those supervising the teen driver should not be allowing a cell phone in the hands of that permitted driver.
“During the six month period that kids are with a parent or with someone over 21 years old and it is that person's responsibility to keep them safe,” said Representative Palmer. “They are in a teaching mode they shouldn't be allowed to talk on the phone.”
AAA Oregon/Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson presented the bill to committee and said the purpose is to limit dangerous distractions for Idaho's youngest drivers, by instilling at a young age that a cell phone and driving don't mix.
Carlson likened the issue of distracted driving to what lawmakers were dealing with 30 years ago when they were making laws to stop drinking and driving.
“It took 20 and 30 years and it took multiple levels of laws to make what we have now work,” said Carlson. “So we know these are tough rows to hoe, there is a lot of work to do and we think this is the next step.”
As the law stands; during the 6 month-drivers license permit process--the teen driver must have 50 hours of supervised driving and any citations that driver receives could put them at risk of having to start the process over.
Carlson said that is exactly the penalty with HB 155 if the teen driver gets caught talking on a cell phone.
The measure now goes to the House floor either late this week or early next week according to Chairman Palmer, presented by Representative Linden Bateman.