As of July 1st, 2004 it is illegal to drive and use a handheld cell phone in New Jersey and the District of Columbia, according to news reports. New Jersey and D.C. join New York as the only jurisdictions to outlaw handheld cell phone use while driving. In New Jersey, motorists can be cited for using a handheld cell phone only if they are pulled over for another offense. The fine is up to $250. The fine for a violation in D.C. is $100 and one point on a person's driving record. Persons in the driver's seat wishing to use a cell phone while driving will have to use hands-free devices that enable them to conduct a telephone conversation without removing their hands from the steering wheel. However, highway safety groups say no studies so far show that banning handheld cell phones while driving has saved lives or reduced accidents, although more information is being collected. There is much debate about whether talking on a cell phone is any more distracting than changing a CD, eating, or talking to passengers. There's also disagreement about cell phones and whether the problem is having one hand on the wheel, dialing a number or just the talking itself. This year, 33 states have considered 83 bills dealing with distracted driving. Though 22 of those bills focused on the use of handheld cell phones, others looked at television monitors, DVD players and other car gadgets.
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