Utah House kills bill to ban distracted driving

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives defeated a bill that would have banned distracted driving.

In a 32-41 vote on Monday, the House rejected House Bill 13, that would have prohibited use of a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless it was hands-free. You would have gotten one “tap” or “swipe” under the bill.

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, pushed the bill as one that would cut down on texting while driving and ensure lives are saved on the roads. She faced a lot of pushback from Republican colleagues in the House.

“I just don’t know where this stops,” said Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, who complained of “over-criminalizing” people.

Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, supported the bill, admitting to using her phone while driving and having a few near misses. She said the bill prompted her to stop using her phone while driving.

“I know I’m a dangerous driver when I’m using my cell phone in the car,” Rep. Judkins said.

Other lawmakers argued that traffic fatalities were declining and so was distracted driving. Some suggested it should be an educational campaign. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said that by the legislature’s logic, DUI would be unnecessary and would be solved with an education campaign.

“Just because we educate people, they don’t always do the right thing,” she said.

Ahead of the vote, Rep. Spackman Moss pushed back at her critics on the House floor.

“It sounds to me like there’s lots of excuses. ‘I don’t want to change my behavior,'” she said.

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