The Utah House of Representatives voted against a bill that would have imposed a ban on drivers using cellphones.
 - Photo via Utah State Legislature/Wikipedia.

The Utah House of Representatives voted against a bill that would have imposed a ban on drivers using cellphones.

Photo via Utah State Legislature/Wikipedia.

A proposal to ban people from using handheld cellphones while behind the wheel in Utah has failed to pass the state's House of Representatives, reports the Idaho Statesman.

The bill would dictate that motorists only use cellphones hands-free by using speakerphone, Bluetooth earpieces or integrated dashboard systems.

However, Utah representatives voted 32-41 against HB13, which would have made the use of a handheld cellphone while driving a criminal offense, reports KSL.com.

The tough penalty attached to the offense appears to be among the primary reasons the bill was killed. The penalty in the bill is a Class C misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor when bodily injury is caused. That would allow judges to impose both jail time and fines for offenses, note reports. 

A number of lawmakers voiced concern that the punishment would be too harsh without making a big enough impact on enhanced safety.  

House Minority Whip Carol Spackman Moss (D-Holladay), who sponsored the legislation, said fatalities have dropped in every state that has passed a hands-free law.

To date, 16 states in the nation have adopted hands-free laws and 47 states ban text messaging for all drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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