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FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007
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Teen driver cell phone ban gets poor reception

MONTGOMERY (AP)— Legislation to ban motorists 17 and younger from talking on cell phones while they drive stalled in the Alabama House on Thursday amid a lengthy debate about whether it's safe for any age to steer and chat at the same time.

The legislation by Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, sparked more than three hours of debate before House Speaker Seth Hammett suggested the House adjourn until Tuesday and let McClendon rewrite his bill in preparation for another try at an undetermined date.

"It was my sense that most people here today felt that it should apply across the board or not at all," Hammett, D-Andalusia, said after the adjournment vote.

"We'll be back with a much better bill," said McClendon, chairman of the State Safety Coordinating Committee.

McClendon's bill, which was endorsed by the Safety Coordinating Committee, would have banned drivers 15, 16 and 17 years old from using hand-held and handsfree cell phones while on the road.

McClendon said drivers ages 15-17 have the most accidents because they lack experience and get distracted easily. Banning cell phone use would remove one distraction and save lives, he said.

But during the lengthy debate, the House added one amendment after another to his bill, including cutting the fine to $25 and mandating that insurance companies couldn't use a cell phone violation to increase rates or cancel a policy.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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