January 22, 2007

Four U.S. states now have driver cell phone laws

Arlington, Virginia – Recent legislation signed into law now makes California the fifth U.S. jurisdiction to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The California law goes into effect in July 2008, and will include a minimum fine of US$20 for a first violation and US$50 for subsequent violations.

Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New York and New Jersey also have similar bans on hand-held phones.

North Carolina, Rhode Island and West Virginia have bans on all cell phones, not just hand-held, but the laws do not apply to all drivers; West Virginia’s applies to drivers with intermediate licenses and learner’s permits, while Rhode Island and North Carolina prohibit drivers younger than 18 from using any kind of cell phone. Eleven other jurisdictions previously enacted cell phone laws that target young drivers.

According to IIHS research, both hand-held and hands-free phones influence driving and increase the risk of a crash; young motorists are more likely to talk on cell phones while driving than older people.

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