N.J. Gov. Codey Pushes for Stronger Ban on Use of Hand-Held Electronic Devices while Driving

September 28, 2005

Acting New Jersey Governor Richard Codey will introduce legislation to enact a stronger statewide ban on use of hand-held electronic devices for motorists.

“Cell phones have made many things in everyday life more convenient, including car accidents,” said Codey during the event at the West Orange Police Building. “Strengthening the ban will help us live better with technology.”

Codey wants to enforce the ban on hand-held devices while driving as a primary offense, which means police officers could write summons to motorists for using a hand-held device. Today, the ban is enforced as a secondary offense, which means another offense must be present before an officer can issue a summons for violating the hand-held device ban.

In addition to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and the District of Columbia have enacted a ban on hand-held devices while driving. Only New Jersey enforces the ban as a secondary offense.

Even as a secondary offense, 11,400 motorists have been cited for hand-held ban violations in New Jersey between Sept. 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005, according to the New Jersey Municipal Court Administration. By contrast, New York has had 100,250 violations as a primary offense in its first 15 months of enforcement.

Recent studies underscore the dangers of using hand-held devices while driving. Motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to get into serious crashes, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

Also, talking on cell phones caused far more crashes and near misses than any other distraction in a car, according to a joint study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

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