Late last month, the Rhode Island Senate passed two bills on driver safety, one banning younger drivers from cell phone use while driving, and the other creating stronger seat belt enforcement.
The cell phone proposal was targeted at drivers under the age on 21, and would make it illegal for them to talk on a handheld cell phone while operating a vehicle, though hands-free phones would still be legal. The fine for such a violation would be $100.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Frank Lombardo (D-Johnston) said that drivers engaged in cell phone conversations are causing too many accidents, and that the worst offenders were young drivers. Texting while driving is already banned in Rhode Island.
The Senate passed the bill 36 to 1. It now moves to the House for consideration.
The seat belt law simply makes the lack of a belt a primary offense. It’s already a violation to not be buckled up while in a moving vehicle, but this law would give law enforcement the ability to stop a car if the driver isn’t wearing his seat belt, rather than merely issuing a secondary citation for it. It is thought that stronger enforcement could save about four more lives every year.
The cell phone bill passed the Senate by a margin of 36-1, and the seat belt bill passed by 25-13. Both are now under consideration by the Rhode Island House of Representatives.