New report from research group suggests stricter driving rules

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Foundation, an influential public policy research group, will publish a report suggesting a range of changes to the rules of the road in Utah, with just about each one making someone angry.

The report, titled "Utah in the Fast Lane" looks at seat belt use, helmet laws, teen driving restrictions, drunk driving and driving while distracted by an electronic device.

It's in that last category the report may raise the most eyebrows.

"Talking on a cell phone driving impairs you as much as driving drunk," said Melissa Proctor, the author of the report.

Utah law currently bans using a cell phone for reasons other than answering a call while driving, but researchers at the Utah Foundation say current science makes it clear that's not enough.

"It turns out that hand-held and hands-free phone calls are equivalently distracting," Proctor said.

Among other conclusions from the report state, teenagers should be subject to more driving restrictions, including expanding the current driving curfew for 16-year-olds to start at 9 p.m. rather than midnight.

"Most teens who die in traffic accidents die between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight," Proctor said.

The report also includes statistics showing that states with mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists have about 90 percent helmet use compared to Utah where helmet use is slightly more than 50 percent.

See the full interview with Melissa Proctor, author of the "Utah in the Fast Lane" report,  in the video below.