By a convincing vote of 125-19, the state of New York became the first to pass a law banning talking on hand-held cellular phones while driving, according to an article in the New York Times. The bill will not prohibit talking on the telephone in a car, but it would make it a traffic violation to raise a handset to the ear and have a conversation. Talking with a headset or speaker phone will be allowed.
Similar bans have been proposed in 41 other states the last 2-1/2 years, but have failed to pass. Counties took the first step in New York. Three--Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester--enacted local bans earlier this year.
The bill received an added boost in late March when Quinnipiac University published a poll showing that 87% of New York voters supported the idea. A week later, New York Governor George Pataki and the leaders of the Senate and General Assembly endorsed a prohibition on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.
The ban is expected to take effect on Nov. 1, though violators would get only warnings from police until Dec. 1. After that, a judge could impose a fine of up to $100.