Recently, here in Maine, the state's Transportation committee put the kibosh to a bill that would ban the use of handheld cell phone devices while driving.  Texting while driving is already illegal in this state.  Both practices have been proven to divert driver attention from the road, and now, some officials are attributing the spike in teenage driving deaths last year to cell phones and texting.

After eight years of a steady decline, a new report from the Governors Highway Safety  Association on Tuesday found a 19 percent increase in the number of U.S. deaths for drivers 16 and 17 years old in the first half of 2012.  The number of 16-year-old drivers killed in accidents rose from 86 to 107 in the  first six months of 2012, a 24 percent increase, while 17-year-old driver  fatalities increased from 116 to 133, a 15 percent jump.

Allan Williams, a leading researcher on highway safety said, "We know from research and experience that teen drivers are not only a danger to  themselves but also a danger to others on the roadways. So these numbers are  cause for concern".

Across the country, driving deaths were up 5% last year, and the teenage demo may be the reason for that figure. Training and distraction seem to be the major causes.  Everyting from playing with the radio, passenger distraction, texting and other modern electronics could be to blame.  According to officials, the issue of distraction is very unreported.

Getty Image

A recent poll here at the I-95 found that 83% of the respondents wanted to ban handheld cell devices while driving.

When the bill was presented to the state's Transportation Committee, a representative from AAA of New England said that 90 percent of people fear distracted driving as much as they fear those who drive drunk. The AAA spokesperson said that talking on a cell phone while driving is every bit as distracting as texting.

Click below for a public service announcement that we run on I-95 concerning distracted driving.