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Should New Jersey Ban All Cellphone Use by Motorists?

Federal transportation agency claims even hands-free use is hazardous.

Should drivers be banned from using a cellphone, even in hands-free mode?

The federal National Transportation Safety Board doesn't believe it makes any difference whether the driver is holding the cellphone or using it in handsfree mode—all cellphone use by motorists is hazardous, the agency said. In a statement issued this week, the board (which has no legal authority to regulate cellphones itself) urged state governments to ban all cellphone use by drivers.

New Jersey already has one of the toughest laws in the nation on the use of cellphones while driving. And a bill introduced last month in the Assembly would make it even tougher, adding up to two months in jail to the current $100 fine.

But the state Court of Appeals interpreted that law in a decision last July that some critics say weakened the legislation. Police in Teaneck arrested a man who they said they saw holding a cellphone and pushing buttons on the keypad. He was convicted in municipal court and a Superior Court upheld a fine of $106 plus court costs of $33. But the Court of Appeals, citing an exception in the New Jersey law that allows the use of hands-free devices, said that holding the phone and pushing buttons to activate it was allowed, if the motorist was doing so to use it in hands-free mode. Click here to read the text of the court's opinion.

Some scientists at Rutgers and at Stevens Institute of Technology say they have a technological solution to the problem. They say they have figured out a way to shut down the driver's cellphone without turning off the cellphones of passengers in the car. But they concede the system may not work everywhere.

Ricky December 16, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Mays, your response is typical of asking anyone with an addiction to stop doing it. It gets nasty just like if we confront others about their smoking addiction. But we don't since smoking doesn't put the rest of us in jeopardy. But lack of concentration by the drivers behind us does put us in jeopardy. It puts many others in more danger including pedestrians.
Prentiss Gray December 16, 2011 at 05:31 PM
After reading this thread I've changed my mind from allowing it to not allowing it. Driving is not a right "Guaranteed by the Constitution," it's a licensed privilege. Driving with distraction endangers every one else on the road and pedestrians as well. Maybe some people have no problem with texting or carrying on a phone conversation while driving, or may they just haven't yet. Either way, distracted driving is a huge problem and it's the government's place to intercede, that's what we pay them for.
RdgwdGRock December 16, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Today, I saw the driver of a Washing Township Fire SUV (in the CBD) using his cell while driving. First, and obvious bad example that a public official would demonstrate a clear disregard for the law. Second, why was a Wash Township vehicle in Ridgewood? There was not an emergency that required assistance from another town.
William Mays December 17, 2011 at 04:34 PM
So I can use the Nav, play with the climate controls and all those other buttons, but not talk on my cell phone when my eyes are on the road and hands on the steering whell?
William Mays December 17, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Don, I can afford a hotel room, but I have to get places, OK? I'm not gonna stop at a hotel room to make you feel safe. I've been using Bluetooth for 7 years, and haven't had one accident or ticket.

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