New Jersey Town Bans Drivers’ Cell Phones

MARLBORO, N.J. (AP) — Marlboro Township has become the first community in New Jersey to prohibit the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving. The Township Council voted 4-0 Thursday night in favor of the ban. Mayor Matthew Scannapieco signed the ordinance a short time later.

Under the ban, anyone caught driving with a hand-held cell phone is subject to a fine of up to $250. Hands-free cell phones are permitted, however.

“It is in the public interest to prevent injuries and save lives, and if I can save just one life with this ordinance, then I’ll have done my job as an elected official,” council Vice President Barry Denkensohn said.

The council’s vote came two days after a Pennsylvania judge struck down a similar ordinance, ruling that Hilltown Township did not have the power to pre-empt state motor vehicle laws.

Brooklyn, Ohio, enacted the country’s first such law last March. Opponents of the Marlboro ban called it a costly endeavor.

“Your hearts are in the right places, but it’s not the purpose of government to protect everyone from everything in life,” said resident Mark Rosenwald, 51.

A 1997 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that talking on a phone while driving quadrupled the risk of an accident and was almost as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel