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Lawmakers are considering a number of bills that would restrict the use of cell phones by motor vehicle drivers.
Legislation now before the R.I. General Assembly includes a proposed ban on text messaging while operating a vehicle and a requirement that drivers use only hands-free communication devices when driving.
Exceptions would be made for emergencies and other conditions, but violators of the law would be fined anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on how many offenses they have accumulated.
A 2008 study indicated that nearly 20 percent of all drivers and more than one-third of drivers ages 18 to 27 admitted to texting while driving. So far, at least 18 states have banned texting while driving, while nearly two dozen are considering bans.
In 2001, then-Gov. Lincoln Almond vetoed a texting ban passed by the General Assembly. The question today is, has the time come to enact strong restrictions on cell phone use in motor vehicles?