New Jersey has passed a law that makes it illegal, beginning March 1, 2008, to  talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving or to text message while driving. My truck driving friends tell me this is long overdue as they frequently see passenger car drivers oblivious to the danger they create when they are talking on the phone.

Washington was the first state to ban texting in a car back in 2007. Connecticut and New York also have bans on the use of cell phones, New York is apparently allowing the use of hands free devices.  The New York hands free approach was followed by California and D.C. Some states only limit the use of cell phones by school bus drivers, Arkansas and Arizona for example.

Expect the ban on cell phone use while driving to spread. Studies equate to driving while on a cell phone to driving while drunk. If you wouldn’t drink and drive, don’t call and drive. The studies started in 1997 and found someone talking on a cell phone is four (4) times as likely to cause accidents when engaged in cell phone conversation than when not engaged in cell phone conversation. The landmark epidemiological study is Redelmeier and Tibshirani (1997) “Association Between Cellular-Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collisions.” New England Journal of Medicine, 336, 453. The study examined the telephone records of 699 auto drivers who had caused motor vehicle accidents and found that 24 percent were involved in cell phone conversations at the time of the accidents. The established four fold increased incidence of accidents in association with cell phone use is the same incidence associated with DUI drunk driving.