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Governor George Pataki Touts New York's Handheld Cell Phone Law

Aired June 28, 2001 - 12:17   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now live to New York. You see here Governor George Pataki, who has just signed the ban of the use of cell phones in cars into law.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: .... over the course of past few years an explosion in the use of handheld cell phones. And they're a great tool. There are some people right here using them now. They do allow you to communicate from literally anywhere at any time.

But they also, if they're being used in a motor vehicle by a driver, pose an enormous threat to public safety. It is simply inherently dangerous to hold the wheel with one hand, hold onto a phone with another and engage in conversation. Driving a car is a serious responsibility that requires the attention, the full attention of the driver. And they should not be distracted while holding onto a handheld cell phone.

So today we will pass a law. As of December 1, if you drive a car while holding your cell phone in your other hand, you will get a ticket; you will be fined. We are confident that New Yorkers will obey this law and follow this law because it is inherently sensible, and people understand that we've seen too many accidents, too many fatalities, too many tragedies from people operating a vehicle while holding onto a handheld cell phone.

As of December 1, it will be the law that you will get a ticket and a fine if you continue to do it. As of November 1, it will be illegal, but we'll give you one month where you get a warning when you're pulled over, as opposed to the ticket. But you will get a ticket beginning December 1. And I'm confident that New Yorkers will obey this law, just as we have had one of the highest rates of compliance in the nation with the seat belt law.

We have enforced the seat belt law. And we have a tremendous compliance from New Yorkers. And it's one of the reasons that the year 2000 had our lowest fatality record on the highways in our history.

And let me just thank my colleagues in government who worked so hard to pass this first-ever ban in the nation. In the Senate, we had great leadership from Senator Carl Marcellino from Long Island.

(APPLAUSE)

And, Senator, thank you for what you have to done to make sure the Senate passed this bill expeditiously. And in the Assembly, we've had leadership from the beginning of the year from Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.

(APPLAUSE)

Assemblyman, we appreciate your leadership in making sure the Assembly worked hard to pass this legislation. We are grateful for their support. But as has been the case so many times when we've changed the laws in New York state and been the first to take steps to protect our citizens, it's been ordinary, common citizens who have come forward to make the case in Albany to the legislature why this change was needed.

And this afternoon, we have three people who have taken time from their careers, their lives, their families to help us lobby to make sure this became the law. And I want to first recognize and thank Patricia Pena, who is standing behind me. Patricia lost her beautiful daughter Morgan, who was killed when a driver was distracted because he was talking on a handheld cell phone.

HARRIS: And with that, we've been hearing now Governor George Pataki of New York there, crowing that his state is now the first in the nation to ban statewide the use of cell phones in cars.

I believe that the law does not preclude people from using hands- free phone units in the car. But the use of a handheld cell phone is now against the law in the state of New York.

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