(KCPW News) One of four bills introduced this legislative session to restrict cell phone use while driving was put on hold by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee today. The bill makes it a secondary offense to drive while talking on a cell phone, unless the driver uses a hands-free adapter. But Representative Carl Wimmer argued the bill doesn't do anything.
"This bill would make no change in our law, none, zero. We already have careless driving on the books and it is the exact same thing as this bill. The only difference is this is a lower offense than what is already on the books," Wimmer said.
Careless driving is currently a Class C Misdemeanor charge, while this bill would make using a cell phone while driving an infraction. Bill sponsor Representative Carol Spackman-Moss said the bill is more about awareness and modifying behavior.
"I think this would be a significant step forward in driving safety. I mean, it's a minimal restriction on the use of cell phones and while there may be a bill that addresses that already, I don't think anyone thinks that they're restricted in any way from using a cell phone, and people would comply if they knew that was the law," Spackman-Moss said.
Out of the three other cell phone regulation bills, only one has been approved by a legislative committee so far. Some of them prohibit texting, e-mailing, or using the Internet while driving; another prohibits the use of cell phones while driving for those under 18.