Last week, a Utah State Senate committee unanimously passed a bill introduced by Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, under which texting while driving would finally become illegal.
If passed into law, offenders could be slammed with penalties similar to those faced by drivers under the influence of alcohol, class A and class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year and six months in jail respectively. In case texting causes a crash with a fatal outcome, the crime would be treated as a third-degree felony.
Senator Hillyard's bill now moves to the full Senate, and if the unanimous committee is anything to go by, it shouldn't face much opposition. Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, said his vote in favor the bill was an easy one. "I don't text while driving anyway," Urquhart said. "It gets in the way of my banjo playing."
Legislation was slow to catch up with technology, and lawmakers failed to realize early on that texting and emailing while driving are a hazard. Or they just believed nobody would be daft enough to type emails while driving, but the average motorist doesn't seem to care much about the dangers of such behaviour. We hope all States will follow suite soon, and impose harsh penalties for texting and driving.
In January, a Utah man was sentenced to just 15 to 90 days in jail for killing two motorists while texting and driving, causing a public outcry to ban the practice and slap offenders with serious penalties.
Man convicted for causing crash while texting
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Utah State Senator pushes for texting and driving ban