Saskatchewan's legislature has banned drivers from talking on cellphones that aren't the hands-free kind.

On Wednesday, MLAs voted to pass the law that will take effect on Jan. 1.

In addition to the ban on handheld cell use, the law prohibits drivers from texting, emailing or surfing the internet using phones or similar devices.

The government said it wanted the law passed because distracted driving is a serious road safety issue. About one in four accidents are caused by distractions, the province says.

While experienced drivers will be allowed to use hands-free devices while driving, new drivers — those in the province's graduated driver's licensing program — are banned from using any kind of cellphone on the road.

The penalty is $280, which includes a victims' surcharge of $60. Breaking the law also means four demerit points. Accumulating demerit points can make it more expensive for drivers to renew their insurance.

Drivers making emergency 911 calls will be exempt from the new rules.

Saskatchewan MLAs also pass legislation Wednesday that moves Saskatchewan toward a five-year driver's licence from the current one-year licence. That law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2011.