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Ohio town cracks down on driving under influence of phone

Park 2 Talk
New signs have popped up along Brooklyn's roadways

CNN's Ed Garsten looks at the new law and gets reaction from both sides
Windows Media 28K 80K

Should drivers who use cell phones while behind the wheel be punished?

Yes - they're endangering other motorists
Yes - but only if they cause an accident
No - they have the right to use them
View Results

August 25, 1999
Web posted at: 6:22 p.m. EDT (2222 GMT)

From Correspondent Ed Garsten

BROOKLYN, Ohio (CNN) -- In the habit of chatting on your cell phone while driving down the street? Then steer clear of Brooklyn, Ohio.

Unless you can talk on your cell phone without using your hands, your conversation is illegal. While police are giving out warning tickets now, they plan to issue real tickets, carrying a fine of up to $100, starting September 1.

"If you're on the road and there's an emergency, use your cell phone. But if you're on the road, gift-of-gabbing, pull onto the side of the road," says Mayor John Coyne, who proposed the law to promote safety. "If you have a mobile unit where you can keep ... both hands on the wheel, fine."

Not everyone is amused. Paul Jeris was recently pulled over for talking while driving.

"We use the phone constantly for business ... if we're late for meetings, every aspect," Jeris said. "I disagree with it."

Coyne says the law will save lives, and a pair of studies tend to support that position.

An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that using a cell phone while driving does increase the chance of getting into an accident. And a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that motorists quadruple their chances of having a wreck if they use their cell phones while behind the wheel.

One cell phone service provider agrees that drivers should pay more attention to the road but disagrees with the research.

"I think if you consider there were 200,000 people with cell phones in 1984 and there are 69 million now, if there was a direct correlation to safety and cell phone use, there would be a 10 times -- or whatever that factor is -- (increase) of car accidents," says Tom Minardo of Airtouch Cellular.

NEC to bring video to your cell phone
August 3, 1999
New service for mobile phones provides business, entertainment, and travel information
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Welcome To AirTouch Communications
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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