TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Note to Drivers: Lose the Phone (and Lipstick)

Note to Drivers: Lose the Phone (and Lipstick)

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 1 Oct 2005 21:47:36 -0400


GREENWICH, Conn., Sept. 29 - When a new state driving law goes into
effect here on Saturday, Will Suarez will have to put down his Treo
650 cellphone and stop digging into his briefcase while cruising
Connecticut's streets and highways in his Audi sedan.

The new law, one of the toughest in the nation, goes beyond just
prohibiting drivers from using hand-held cellphones while behind the
wheel. Those pulled over for speeding or other moving violations can
be fined $100 for any behavior that distracts them from driving --
glancing at a newspaper, typing on a BlackBerry, applying lipstick
while looking in the rearview mirror or turning to yell at the kids in
the back seat.

It is a prospect that Mr. Suarez, 42, like many drivers across
Connecticut, can hardly believe is possible.

"I'm in sales, so I work out of my car a lot," he said Thursday, after
driving into a parking lot here with his phone pressed against his
ear. "It's an infringement of my personal freedoms."

Drivers nonetheless will have to get used to it. Four years after New
York passed the nation's first cellphone ban, 22 states and Washington
have limited cellphone use while driving. And in the last year, many
of those states have gone beyond merely regulating cellphone use among
drivers, cracking down on distractions inside cars.

Tennessee and Virginia, going further than most, have passed laws
prohibiting the display of pornographic videos in vehicles. In Nevada,
lawmakers recently increased penalties for drivers who kill someone
while eating, putting on makeup or using a cellphone. In Washington,
district lawmakers have banned driving while "reading, writing,
performing personal grooming, interacting with pets or unsecured
cargo" or while playing video games. At least a half-dozen other
states, including Alaska, Louisiana, Delaware and Wisconsin, are
considering bans on activities that pull drivers' attention away from
the road.

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