Ban on teen texting is safety issue

Published 11:35 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This week we approved my bill, Senate Bill 2280 that will ban text messaging by intermediate and beginning drivers plus extend by six months the time required for them to obtain permanent drivers licenses.

A teenager will have to be 16 years old to qualify for an intermediate license, which allows some unsupervised driving, instead of the current age of 15 and a half. This gives them more time to learn from an experienced driver and develop safer driving skills.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that drivers between 15 and 24 years of age represent less than 15 percent of the driving population, but are responsible for roughly 30 percent of automobile related injuries at a cost of about $19 billion.

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The CDC also reported that the first year teenagers are eligible to drive is the riskiest. We hope the governor will sign this bill and add another level of safety for our teenage drivers.

We approved House amendments to Senate Bill 2032 that make it a felony for retail operators to misrepresent the grade of gasoline, diesel or other motor fuels sold to consumers.

Anyone caught and convicted of selling a lower grade product than what they advertise will be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a five year prison sentence.

We also approved a bond bill that gives $12 million for the construction of a new, state of the art Crime Lab that our prosecutors and law enforcement officials have long asked us for. Building this facility will allow them to save money by reducing their need to use privately run laboratories for DNA processing.

That same bond bill includes $35 million to pay for upgrades, repairs and existing projects at our colleges and universities and an additional $12.25 million for repairs and upgrades at our community and junior colleges.

While we await details on the federal stimulus money, we are set to recess the session until sometime in May when we have learned how that money can be spent.

Please contact me at 601-359-3244 or e-mail me at

Sen. Kelvin BUTLER is a state senator representing a part of Adams County.