TRENTON – Legislation to prohibit public transportation operators from using a wireless telephone or electronic communication device while their vehicles are moving was advanced Monday by a Senate panel.
The bill – approved 75-0 by the Assembly in February – stems from a commuter train crash in California that killed 25 people. Investigators found the operator of the passenger train sent a text message 22 seconds before the collision with an oncoming freight train.
New Jersey already bans individual motorists from using texting and talking on a hand-held cell phones while driving.
Under the bill (A-407), use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device shall include, but would not be limited to, talking or listening to another person on the telephone, text messaging or sending an electronic message via a wireless telephone or electronic communication device.
An operator of a moving public transportation vehicle would be allowed to use a wireless telephone or electronic communication device only in an emergency or when radio communication failure occurs.
A violation would be considered a disorderly persons offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, six months imprisonment or both.
The bill was advanced by the Senate Transportation Committee.
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