The Clarion-Ledger, 3/20/9

In his 25 years on the job, Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Walter Armstrong says he has gone to too many homes in the middle of the night, telling parents their child had died in a collision.

In many cases, cell phones contributed to the crash, Armstrong said Thursday during a news conference at the Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that bans newly licensed teenage drivers from sending text messages behind the wheel.

“We’ve had a number of recent tragedies that might have been prevented if we had had this law in effect,” Armstrong said.

Under the bill, a new driver caught texting could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500. If there’s an accident when someone is texting while driving, the fine would rise to as much as $1,000.