It could soon be illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to own a cell phone in the state of Vermont.
A new proposal would make it illegal for residents in the state to possess a cell phone until they have reached the age of 21, ABC News reported. The legislation was proposed by State Senator John Rodgers, a Democrat who spoke out against the dangers that phones pose in both driving and online bullying. His bill cites statistics of deaths caused by the use of cell phones while driving.
“The use of cellphones while driving is one of the leading killers of teenagers in the United States. According to the United States Department of Transportation, cellphones are involved in 1.6 million automobile crashes each year, causing half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths,” the bill says.
The bill went on to state that young people often use cell phones to bully or threaten others, which can lead to suicides. He also noted that the internet and social media have been used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, and cell phones have been used by mass shooters to conduct research on past shootings.
While the bill has garnered some headlines, Rodgers himself said he does not expect it to pass — and wouldn’t even vote for it if the bill came to the floor. Speaking to the Times Argus, Rodgers said that he wanted to make a point about the dangers of cell phones and compare it to efforts to restrict gun rights.
Rodgers said that the state’s Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights” and wanted to show that, by his statistics, cell phones could actually be more dangerous than guns.
His ploy didn’t go over well with everyone. The advocacy group Voices for Vermont’s Children, which promotes policies that help children and families in the state, called on the state Legislature to focus on issues that had a real impact on residents and not play political games.
“There are so many critical issues impacting the lives of working families in Vermont today, from increasing minimum wage to implementing equitable family and medical leave insurance programs to establishing an office of child advocate,” Michelle Fay, the organization’s executive director, told the Times Argus.
“We urge the Legislature to focus on the important work at hand instead of getting tied up in hollow diversions.”
If the cell phone bill should somehow pass, even without the support of its author, anyone under the age of 21 found to be possessing a cell phone could be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of $1,000.