They're handy and getting more affordable, but at least one state says cell phones are too dangerous to use while driving. New York's legislature has agreed to ban the use of hand held cell phones in cars. Dozens of other states, including Oklahoma, have looked at similar laws.
KOTV's Emory Bryan says Tulsa Police say anything that distracts from driving is dangerous - but cell phones can be especially distracting - because you have to handle a conversation, while you also try to keep your hands on the wheel. Cell phones have revolutionized communications for people on the go - but the convenience comes with a price - an increased risk of accidents caused by yet another distraction in the car. Oklahoma doesn't keep statistics on how often cell phones are a factor in crashes - but the police say it's a growing problem. Sgt. Mike Garner, Tulsa Police: "They'll drive for miles talking on a cell phone and you can tell that's a long drawn out conversation that involves some mental processing and that's going to distract them from the focus that should be the safe operation of the vehicle."
Placing restrictions on the popular cell phone might seem like a politically unpopular idea. Lawmakers in New York passed it after polls showed 87% of the people wanted it. Local motorist, "I think people should be careful, I'm not sure we need a law." Most of the folks we found - including some using their phones while driving - said there ought to be restrictions. Another motorist, "They're always doing that and it takes their mind off of driving, causes accident." Local motorist, "Yeh, but we should also restrict other things, like makeup, any distraction really." New York state's law bans the use of hand held phones in cars. It takes effect November 1st. Violators will pay $100 fines, but can have the ticket dismissed if they buy a hands free adapter.
Here in Oklahoma - the police can stop someone using a cell phone - and ticket them for inattentive driving. "So if they're talking on a call phone, it's no different than if they're drinking a hot coffee or eat something or put on makeup or comb their hair." The Tulsa Police only know of one fatal accident in Tulsa caused by a person using a cell phone - and it was the driver that died. They encourage people to use one of the hands free adapters if they make a call in the car, and take advantage of speed dialing features so you're looking at the road instead of the phon