Alaskan legislator would ban cell phones

| 1/10/2002

Under a measure prefiled by Rep. Ken Lancaster (D-Soldotna), it would be illegal for drivers to have hand-held cellular phones in their vehicles. The measure is among roughly 40 bills submitted by lawmakers last week in anticipation of the legislative session, set to convene Jan. 14.

The cell phone bill would allow drivers to use only hands-free phones, said Lancaster, noting models that are voice activated or attach to earphones would be acceptable, The Juneau Empire reported.

Drivers caught using hand-held phones would be guilty of an infraction, said Lancaster, who plans to set fines during hearings on the bill.

The issue of distracted drivers was the topic of many state legislatures last year. Starting Jan. 1, cell phones and driving will be studied in California, while Oregon made it illegal for local governments to regulate cell phones and driving. In North Bend, Wash., ``inattentive'' drivers - fiddling with the radio, eating a burger - can be fined an extra $300 if they get a ticket.