New Jersey eyes cell phone restriction

| 12/15/2003

A New Jersey Assembly panel is reviewing legislation that would require drivers to keep their hands off cell phones.

Gov. James McGreevey has said he will sign the bill if it clears the full Assembly, which would make the state the second in the nation to enact such a ban, The Express-Times reported. Only New York has a similar law.

“It’s a public safety issue,” McGreevey spokesman Micah Rasmussen told the newspaper. “There’s nothing more frustrating than someone who takes their own life in their hands and yours when they’re paying more attention to dialing a phone than they are to a car next to them.”

The state Senate previously approved the measure.

S338, which would prohibit hand-held cell phone use while driving, is now before the Assembly Transportation Committee. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” device would still be permitted.

The infraction would be a secondary offense, meaning police could only ticket drivers if pulled over for some other offense. Violators could be fined up to $250.

The bill would exempt emergency calls.

If approved by the transportation panel, the measure will head to the full Assembly for consideration.