DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa House voted to ban any cell phone use by the state’s youngest drivers.
The measure, approved 55-41 on Monday, is a stricter version of a measure approved by both the House and Senate that only banned sending and writing text messages and e-mails but still allowed talking on cell phones while driving.
Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, said teenagers are responsible for most texting and other use of electronic hand-held devices.
“If we can start there and work our way up, it would be a positive step,” Raecker said of the revamped measure. “It is a hard ban on electronic devices.”
The measure goes back to the Senate as lawmakers struggle to end this year’s session by the end of the month.
Under the version approved by the House, drivers with restricted youth licenses — typically ages 14 to 17 — would be forbidden from using a cell phone while driving for any purpose, and also would be prohibited from using hand-held music players or other electronic devices.
Youngsters can obtain a learners permit at age 14 to drive with an adult, and can get a restricted drivers license at age 16. They can obtain a full license when they turn 18 in most cases.
The version approved in the House is the latest twist in the session-long argument over traffic safety measures.
The House earlier approved a measure that would ban all drivers from writing and sending text messages, but would allow them to read the text messages. The Senate decided to ban reading text messages as well, shipping the issue back to the House.
The compromise approved Monday was sponsored by an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.
Lacking the votes to pass a strict ban on any motorist sending text messages, lawmakers agreed to target the youngest drivers.
Supporters of a texting ban targeting all motorists said Iowa residents want text messaging stopped.
“The people of Iowa have had it,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. “They don’t want people texting and driving.”
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