Gov. George Pataki signed into law June 28 the nation's first statewide legislation banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. "By requiring drivers to put down their cell phones and pay attention to the road, this new law will help make our roads safer and save lives," Pataki said. "Too many families have suffered the tragedy of seeing a loved one injured - sometimes fatally - in an accident caused by someone who was driving and was using a cell phone." Pataki signed the bill, passed earlier this week by the state Legislature in Albany, in an outdoor ceremony at a Manhattan park. The law, slated to go into effect Nov. 1, would fine first-time violators of the ban $100. A second conviction calls for a $200 fine and every subsequent violation would cost $500. An exception is allowed for emergency 911 calls, but the legislation does not address the issue of dialing while driving. Speaker phones and CB radios are still allowed. Amid growing concerns over driver distraction, at least a dozen cities have established cell phone bans for drivers, starting in 1999 with Brooklyn, Ohio. Bans have been proposed in 40 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And at least 23 nations, including Great Britain, Italy, Israel and Japan, bar drivers from using hand-held cell phones.