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New York State Cell Phone Law Takes Effect Today

Aired November 1, 2001 - 09:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now for our Life Goes On segment. If you live in New York and you are about to get into your car, hang it up. Your cell phone, that is. As of today, it is against the law to talk on the telephone while driving in New York State. CNN's Hillary Lane has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY LANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some drivers were too busy on their cell phones.

(on camera): It's illegal to use a cell phone while driving a taxi cab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course it is.

LANE: But those who did talk to us said, "the law's the law."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my headset. I just thought I'd get the last bit of use out of it without it.

LANE: Today, New York becomes the first state in the country to ban drivers from holding their cellular phones to their ears while at the wheel. Worldwide, more than a dozen countries require drivers to use hands-free devices. 42 other states are considering restrictions. Miami just passed a law which will take effect next year. Legislation prompted by an increase in accidents and deaths in which police believe cell phones played a role. New York State assemblyman Felix Ortiz witnessed one such crash.

FELIX ORTIZ, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: And I asked, "are you drunk"? and the person says to me, "I am not drunk. It was because of this cell phone."

LANE: The New York law (car honking), and threats of more legislation elsewhere have driven carmakers to invest in so-called telematics systems with built-in microphones and voice recognition systems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cellport, speed dial office.

COMPUTER VOICE: Dialing office.

LANE: At New York phone stores, customers have been buying cradles, headsets and earphones for as little as $15. Cheap in comparison to the fines: $100 for the first offense; $200 the second time; and $500 for each violation after that. But some critics say fines and bans don't solve the bigger problem.

MANTIL WILLIAMS, SPOKESPERSON, AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION: We need to look at distracted driving as a whole, because we know that as much as 50 percent of all accidents could caused by distracted driving.

LANE: Distractions including rubbernecking, eating and drinking, putting on lipstick, disciplining the kids, even adjusting the radio.

(voice-over): The only way to improve safety here in New York and anywhere else, these critics say, is to remind drivers that when their foot is on the pedal, their eyes and ears should be on the road. Hillary Lane, for CNN, New York.

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