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Monday, November 21, 2011

Minnesota Students Push for Phone Ban

The four students took on the cell phone topic for their Public Policy and Private Initiative class. They did research on the number of deaths and injuries related to driving while using a wireless device, they drafted language for legislation, and took it to their state senator.

"I wish we didn't have to legislate something like this, but the bottom line is there's a lot of deaths, a lot of injuries and we need to do something about it," said State Senator Chuck Wiger.

Wiger introduced the bill on behalf of the students Monday. If it passes, as is, all drivers would be prohibited from using their phones for any reason in the car, unless it's an emergency. They could also face fines up to $300.

"If this law passes, it will be the first law in the United State to ban hands-free devices, which is actually kind of cool because research we found shows that hands-free is no different than driving hands-held," said senior Katherine Garvey.

Minnesota already bans cell use for bus drivers and young drivers with provisional licenses. They students know pushing it to the rest of the population will be a tough sell.

"Maybe this bill isn't the one that gets passed, but at least it will provoke conversation and thoughts on the issue, and that's really what you want to do is get the issue moving," said Gaughan.

The students' teacher, Maureen Conway, says regardless of the outcome of this particular bill, she hopes the lesson learned is that the path to change has to start somewhere.

"The most important idea I want them to get out of this is that all of this history happened because individual people took a chance. Individual people wanted something done. They approached the government, they created a foundation, they did something because they wanted to see change," said Conway.

Source: Youth Road Safety

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