A new Iowa bill, if passed, will prohibit text messaging and cell phone usage by those with an instruction permit or intermediate driver's license unless it is to contact law enforcement.

Iowa uses the graduated license program in which young drivers begin with an instructional permit, move onto an intermediate license, and if all goes well to a full privilege license.

"Statistically the 16-24 year age group makes up 14 percent of the population but they make up 28 percent of the serious accidents. That's from the Safety and Health Council," Shenandoah Police Chief Tim Hanson told Valley News Today.

"Add inexperienced driving to distraction of a cell phone or another person in the car and the mental aspect of driving diminishes. They don't realize the risk involved. It's a public safety issue; it's not about restricting freedom."

If the bill is passed, a graduated license holder caught text messaging or talking on a cell phone while driving will get a simple misdemeanor, punishable by a $30 fine plus a delay in receiving a full driver's license. The same violation by an instructional permit holder will bring a $30 fine plus suspension of the license.

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