SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would amend Utah’s laws to further restrict the use of wireless communication devices while driving was sent back to the House Rules Committee Tuesday morning.
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss has tried to pass the same bill in years past, saying the goal is to save lives by enhancing the state’s penalties for distracted driving and making it illegal to manipulate an electronic communication device—such as a cellphone or laptop—beyond a single swipe or tap while driving.
The use of cellphones while driving in Utah is already banned, but only as a secondary offense, which makes it difficult for police to enforce.
“I wanna just tell you that from the time I started doing this, there were 13 states that had this law, now there are 22. Three more went into effect this year, as of July 1st of 2020,” Moss said.
The bill makes exceptions for using a wireless communication device legally while driving, in circumstances such as reporting a crime, reporting a safety hazard or making a call related to a medical emergency.
Opponents say Moss’ bill would make the law more difficult to understand and wouldn’t necessarily prevent texting and driving.
“ I just worry that I’m going to be restricted from holding,you know, a hamburger, holding a soda, holding my wife’s hand, and so I just don’t know where it stands and so for that reason I support the motion to move back to rules,” said Rep Michael Petersen.
After an open discussion, legislators decided by a vote of 7-4 to send House Bill 160 back to the rules committee for further review.