ORANGEBURG, NY — In less than a month, motorists anywhere in New York State will not be permitted to hold a wireless phone to their ear while driving.
Under a new law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. George Pataki in June, motorists who use their wireless phones while driving must use a hands-free device or face a $100 fine. The new law takes effect November 1 with a one-month warning period for drivers found violating the law. (See timetable below)
"Educating drivers about how to use wireless phones responsibly while driving will enhance highway safety for all of us," said Charles Hand, president of Verizon Wireless' New York Metro Region. "Helping consumers understand the various options available to comply with the law, including features like voicemail that already exist in their phones, is an important part of our overall education effort."
As the effective date of the law draws near, the company reminds all wireless phone users to take steps now to comply with the law. Here's what drivers can do:
- Keep in mind that safe driving is always your first responsibility when behind the wheel.
- Purchase a headset for the most economical way to use a wireless phone while driving and comply with the new law. Be sure to put on your headset when you turn on your phone. Prices for Verizon Wireless headsets begin at $14.99.
- Activate your voice mail service if you haven't already, so you won't miss a call if traffic conditions prevent you from answering the phone. You can retrieve your messages later.
- Program important and frequently dialed numbers into your phone to take advantage of speed dialing and voice activation features on your phone.
- Do not dial calls when you are in motion if your phone is not equipped with voice activated dialing.
- Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Rather, pull off the road to a safe spot or leave yourself a message on your voice mail system.
Hands-free car kits, which provide a cradle for your phone and microphone capability, offer drivers another option for complying with the new law. Hands-free car kits are available for most current model wireless phones and begin at $129.99 with installation.
To help consumers select the hands-free option that's right for them, all Verizon Wireless Communications Stores feature an accessory wall with a variety of headsets and equipment to make hands-free communication easy and convenient.
For a complete line of hands-free accessories, consumers can visit the Verizon Wireless web site at http://www.verizonwireless.com/ics/plsql/accessory_mart.intro or they can call 1-800-2-JOIN-IN.
KEY DATES FOR NY STATE HANDS-FREE LAW
Nov. 1-30, 2001
Warning Period for drivers holding phones to ears while driving
Dec. 1, 2001
Effective Date: Drivers who hold phones to ears while driving can be ticketed
Dec. 1, 2001 - Feb. 28, 2002
Waiver Period: Courts will waive fines for consumers charged with violating law if they demonstrate that they possess a hands-free device prior to court date
March 1, 2002
Consumers using wireless phone while driving must use hands-free devices or risk fines of up to $100