Bill would ban texting while driving

Bill would ban texting while driving

By BONNA JOHNSON, The Daily News Journal

R U txting n driving?

If so, some Tennessee lawmakers want you to put down your phone and position your hands back on the steering wheel.

“It’s very dangerous,” said Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, who represents a portion of Rutherford County and is sponsoring the proposal. “You’re looking down and punching keys. It’s hard to do that.”

His proposal would place a $50 fine on anyone caught texting and driving. It limits court costs to $10.

Tennessee, along with the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Main, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia and Washington, D.C., already prohibit teen drivers from using cell phones while driving.

Two states, Washington and New Jersey, prohibit driving while texting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One major city, Phoenix, also bans the activity.

In California, teenagers will be banned from using all electronic devices while driving — cell phones, pagers, laptops — effective July 1.

“It’s like typing on your computer at the wheel or reading the newspaper,” said Laura Turner, a Franklin woman who supports the bill.

The bill was heard Wednesday by the Senate Transportation Committee, which decided to delay a vote for two weeks. It has not been heard in the House yet.

A Nationwide Insurance study estimated that one-fifth of all drivers send or receive text messages. Meanwhile, 66 percent of drivers between 18 and 24 told a Zogby poll that they drive while texting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Last year, five members of a high school cheerleading squad were killed in New York when the young woman driving lost control, reportedly while sending a text message.

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