It could soon be illegal to talk or text on handheld wireless devices while a vehicle is temporarily stopped, under new legislation sponsored by State Sen. Dick Codey (D-Livingston).

Distracted driving
Lisa F. Young, ThinkStock

"Right now if you're texting or talking on your cell phone at a light, you're not breaking the law," Codey said. "We want to change it to make it like the DUI (Driving Under the Influence) law. If you're at a light and your motor's running obviously -- and you're pulled over and you're legally drunk, you're DUI."

Codey said it's dangerous for motorists to text while sitting at a red light.

"Think of this: You're texting and then the light turns green," Codey said. "If you're in the middle of a text, you're going to continue, and then you become very dangerous on that road. In fact, you're more dangerous than someone who is drunk."

Under the legislation, it still won't be against the law for a driver to talk or text on a handheld device when the vehicle has been pulled over to the side of the road.

The measure would also require driver's license tests to include questions on distracted driving.

"When you study for that exam you're going to learn about the penalties and the fines, and you're going to learn about how dangerous it is," Codey said.

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