N.J. Town Bans Drivers' Cell Phones

Friday, July 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MARLBORO, N.J. (AP) — Talk on your cell phone all you want while you're driving through. Just make sure you use a hands-free phone.

The Township Council voted Thursday night to make this central New Jersey community of 32,000 the first in the state to ban drivers from using hand-held phones. The fine is up to $250.

``It is in the public interest to prevent injuries and save lives, and if I can save just one life with this ordinance, then I'll have done my job as an elected official,'' council Vice President Barry Denkensohn said.

The 4-0 vote came two days after a Pennsylvania judge struck down a similar ordinance, ruling that Hilltown Township could not pre-empt state motor vehicle laws.

Brooklyn, Ohio, enacted the country's first such law last March.

Opponents of the Marlboro ban called it a costly endeavor.

``Your hearts are in the right places, but it's not the purpose of government to protect everyone from everything in life,'' said resident Mark Rosenwald, 51.

A 1997 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that talking on a phone while driving quadrupled the risk of an accident and was almost as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel.