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Va. House To Teens: 'Hang Up And Drive'

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But Andrew Supanich, 16, a sophomore at Stonewall Jackson High School in Prince William County, said he thinks that the ban is a bad idea but that if it does go forward, it should include adults. "It's not fair for them to take it away from teenagers when adults could be on the cellphone and could get in a car accident just as well," he said.

Supanich said he would use the phone for legitimate purposes. "If I was ever on my cellphone while driving, it wouldn't be just, 'I'm bored, and I want to talk to someone.' It would be if I was going to someone else's house and needed directions, or if my mom calls me to go to the grocery store," he said.

Several lawmakers said they were influenced by images of young drivers paying more attention to phone calls and text messages than the road. "It's a simple premise: Young people who do not have experience endanger not only themselves but other drivers," said Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria).

A few conservative lawmakers said they opposed the bill because parents -- not the state -- should be making rules for their children. Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott) said that there might be many items in a car that could distract a driver, such as a radio or purse. "I am the parent of a young driver, and the thing about this bill that concerns me is I can't call my daughter," he said. "There are a lot of times my wife and I would like to know where she is at."

Ebbin responded, "If parents have trouble reaching their kids, they should leave a message."

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, which lobbied for the bill, the bans can greatly reduce the odds of a teenager being in an accident. A University of Utah study found that "young drivers who use cellphones at the wheel drive like the elderly -- with slower reaction times and an increased risk of accidents," according to AAA.

Kaine prohibits his 17-year-old son, Nat, from using a cellphone while driving. "It is the rule in the Kaine household," said Kevin Hall, spokesman for the governor. "Regardless of what he decides to do with this bill, the governor thinks this is a conversation that every parent should have with their teen driver."

Staff writers Maria Glod and Ian Shapira contributed to this report.


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