Drivers who chat on their cell phones while navigating through traffic are the target of a new bill in the state Legislature aimed at reducing the number of people who combine commuting with conversing.

Paul Wong
Music sophomore Christina Reynolds chats on her cellular phone while driving. A bill introduced in the state Legislature proposes that one point be added to a driver”s record if it is proven that cellular phone use contributed to a traffic violation.<br><

The bill, introduced in February by House Majority Floor Bruce Patterson, directs the Secretary of State to add one point to each traffic violation if the citation indicates a cell phone contributed to the cause of the violation. The law would also limit cell phone use while driving to hands-free devices, such as headsets.

“I think the bill has merit, but I don”t want to rush to judgment on it,” said Patterson (R-Canton).

Another element of the bill would require the Secretary of State to conduct a two-year study to determine how often cell phone use played a role in motor vehicle accidents.

But one representative has not shown overwhelming enthusiasm for the bill.

“The question is knowing what we know, is it fair to single out cell phone users versus people who eat their lunch in the car? Where do you draw the line?” asked Rep. Judson Gilbert (R-Algonac), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, to which Patterson”s bill has been referred.

Michigan is one of 40 states considering such regulations, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

University students have noticed and responded to the trend.

LSA junior Dennis Tom admits using his cell phone when he”s driving can be distracting but said he finds it highly unlikely that a cell phone could be proven to cause an accident.

“I was in a car that almost got into an accident when the driver was on a cell phone, but I think it”s very hard to pinpoint the accident on the phone,” Tom said.

But LSA junior Laurin Gracey said she disagrees.

“I hate cell phones,” she said. “They just get in the way. My sister uses one when she drives all the time, and she”s always swerving and doesn”t pay attention to her driving.”

Gracey said her sister was talking to her on the cell phone while driving and got into an accident. “She swerved, hit some orange construction barrels, and crashed,” she said, attributing the cause of the crash to the cell phone.

Gracey said she hopes the law passes and said she thinks it would be effective in limiting cell phone use on the road.

“Using a cell phone is not worth paying extra insurance,” she said.

LSA senior Brian O”Neill also agreed with the proposed legislation. “You can definitely tell when someone”s on their phone that they”re not paying as much attention to driving as they should be,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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