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New York hand-held cell phone bill signed into law

Using a cell phone while driving is "an enormous threat to public safety," New York Gov. Pataki says  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Saying communications technology poses risks as well as advantages, New York Gov. George Pataki signed a bill into law on Thursday banning the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving.

New York is the first state to enact such a ban.

"Driving a car is a serious responsibility that requires the attention, the full attention, of the driver," Pataki said.

For 30 days beginning November 1, violators will get a warning. As of December 1, they will face fines of up to $100. The legislation would allow hand-held cell phones to be used for emergencies. Hands-free cell phones are acceptable under the new legislation.

Interactive: State-by-state cell phone legislation  

Pataki said using a cell phone while driving poses "an enormous threat to public safety." At the signing ceremony in Manhattan, Pataki was joined by individuals who lost loved ones involving cell phones.

The cell phone industry has spent millions on advertisements opposing a ban, calling for education but not legislation.

Two dozen other states are considering similar measures and federal legislation is pending, as well.

Earlier in the week Pataki conceded that people may still be distracted by using headsets and speaker phones while driving, but said that's better than allowing hand-held phone usage.

"At least you're going to have someone with two hands on the wheel," he said.

• National Conference of State Legislatures
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
• World of Wireless Communications

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