Coast Drivers Speak Out On New York Cell Phone Ban

Talking on a cell phone in traffic can be a driver distraction. And in New York, it may also be against the law soon.

State lawmakers are expected to pass legislation Monday making New York the first state to ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

Under the bill, drivers could be fined up to $100 if they are caught holding their phones in traffic.

Many coast residents say they support the legislation and agree that hand held cell phones can pose a danger in traffic.

The safety argument is simple. Drivers holding and talking on cell phones are not paying enough attention to the road.

Pam Veselinovic of Biloxi agrees and worries about folks using cell phones while they're driving.

"That they're paying more attention to who they're talking to on the phone and not driving," she said. "I don't think people take driving seriously enough anyway."

DaNeel Murphy of Gulfport says New York has the right idea in proposing such a law.

"I think it should be passed. Yes I do. A lot of people have been killed by distractions from cell phones and I think they need to stop using cell phones while they're riding."

Some say "hands free" technology is the answer to traffic safety concerns.

"I personally use the ear piece and I don't have a problem driving and talking on the phone," said one man who frequently uses his "hands free" phone while driving.

"It's kind of too distracting with your hand and you can't turn your head and all that kind of business. Cell phones in cars are a good idea though when you have a hands free kit," said Ray Boyce of Gulfport.

Many drivers we talked with admit that using a hand-held cell phone can be a driver distraction. But the convenience factor often competes with safety concerns.

"Mixed emotions. You know I use my cell phone a lot. I think the main distraction's the conversation, not the dialing. My husband and I were talking. You have to look down to dial the phone. That alone could cause an accident. I try not to use mine when I'm driving. But it's hard not to answer when it's ringing," said Medin Powell of Ocean Springs.

New York isn't the only state considering such legislation.  At least 41 other states have debated new laws to regulate cell phone safety in traffic.  Most of the measures died in committee.