Bills pass on teen cell phone use, height restrictions


The Oregon Senate sent the state's tweens to the backseat of the car Monday, while the Oregon House told their teenage counterparts to hang up and drive.

The Senate bill, which passed on a 22-5 vote, would require children weighing more than 40 pounds to be strapped into booster seats until they reach 8 years old, or 4 feet 9 inches in height, whichever comes first.

Under current law, children no longer have to use booster seats once they reach 6 years of age and 60 pounds.

The bill, which would also require that infants under the age of one who weigh less than 20 pounds be strapped into rear-facing child seats, now moves to the Oregon House for consideration. Backers said the proposal would bring Oregon law into line with federal recommendations, and could help draw down more federal grants.

Meanwhile, the Oregon House voted 54-3 to ban drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving. The legislation would apply to teens who hold a provisional driver's license, special student driver permit or a learner's permit.

Teens could only get in trouble if a police officer had already stopped them for another traffic violation, but subsequent tickets for talking on their phones could run as high as $360.

If the bill passes through the Senate and is signed by the governor, Oregon will join 14 other states that ban or restrict young drivers from using cell phones. Four other states ban cell phone use for all drivers, or require them to use a hands-free device.

"It's a modest proposal, but this is the best we can do," said Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego.

The bills are SB480A and HB2872A

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