To Phone or Not to Phone?

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A proposal to ban cell phone use by drivers was authored by Gadsden state Rep. Jack Page. It would allow drivers to use cell phones only if they had a headset or a hands-free device.

A violation would be punishable by a $50 traffic ticket. The bill is sitting in the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee. The committee was supposed to vote on the bill two weeks ago, but Page delayed it because of opposition.

Page said he introduced the legislation to try to improve highway safety. But he says the cell phone industry does not like the bill.

Calie Shackleford, a spokeswoman for Cingular, said other activities behind the wheel, such as eating, tuning the radio or talking with others in the car, are more dangerous than using cell phones.

Seventeen states have laws regarding cell phone use in a car, according to a 2003 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety has taken a position and is reviewing the bill.