Winter 2001, p.11

City Proposes to Ban Hand-Held Cell Phones

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Mayor Giuliani both introduced legislation in December that would ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Speaker Vallone's bill proposes fines from $150 to $300, while the fines in Mayor Giuliani's bill range from $50 to $150. Both bills allow drivers to use handless phones.

These bills are a good first step towards reducing the dangers from cell phone-impaired drivers and place NYC in the company of a handful of other localities around the country that have proposed such progressive legislation. T.A. suggests that the bills should go further and ban the use of all cell phones - hand-held or hands-free - except for emergency use. Researchers have found that the problem with driving while calling is not the distraction of operating the phone, but the fact that the person on the other end of the line is not in the car, and requires additional concentration to speak with.

Projections below are derived from crash data supplied by the New York City Police Department, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and a 1999 study on the risk of cellular phone use while driving, by Donald Redelmeier, MD, and Milton Weinstein, MD of the University of Toronto "Cost Effectiveness of Regulations Against Using A Cellular Telephone While Driving", an abstract of which appeared in the May, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Projected annual incidents due to cellular phone use by NYC Drivers

Fatalities

Bicyclists 1
Pedestrians 10
Motorists 9
TOTAL 20

Injuries

Bicyclists 90
Pedestrians 557
Motorists 2592
TOTAL 3239

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