A new law goes into effect Jan. 1, which prohibits a driver less than 18 years of age who holds a provisional driver license, student permit or instructional permit from using mobile communication devices while driving.

The ban includes text messaging devices and wireless, two-way communication devices designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication (both hand-held and hands-free).

The only exceptions are if the driver is summoning emergency assistance or engaged in farming activities.

The new law, recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, serves as an enhancement to Oregon's graduated driver license program by removing another potential distraction.

Oregon's program for young drivers already limits some distractions, such as who can be in the vehicle and what hours teens can drive.

Oregon's teen driving program, with its various limitations, has reduced the number of fatal and injury crashes involving teen drivers by more than 40 percent since it was implemented. According to the NTSB, a ban on cell phones for teens may further reduce the number of crashes involving teen drivers.

If a teen is operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device, it is a Class D traffic violation with a $97 fine.

A conviction is also placed on the driver's record and counts toward the driver improvement program and/or the habitual offenders program.

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