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N.J. Assemblyman Seeks To Broaden Definition Of 'Distracted Driving'

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Talking on cell phones and texting while driving are already illegal in New Jersey, and soon, a laundry list of other activities could be grounds for a traffic ticket.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey State Assembly Transportation Committee advanced a bill that would fine drivers who smoke, eat, put on makeup, or engage in any activity unrelated to the safe operation of a vehicle.

The bill, introduced last week by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) would expand the restrictions on activities behind the wheel to include anything that constitutes "engaging in distracted driving."

"An operator of a moving motor vehicle shall not engage in any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway," the bill says. It does not break down specific activities that would fit this definition.

The bill calls for a fine of between $200 and $400 for a first offense, $400 to $600 for a second offense, and $600 to $800 for a third or subsequent offense.

Speaking to the Star-Ledger, a New Jersey representative of the National Motorists' Association said the bill was too vague. He told the paper that under the terms of the bill, adjusting the radio or looking at a map could be grounds for a traffic ticket.

The bill has not been introduced in the state Senate.

New Jersey will already dramatically increase penalties for talking or texting while driving, with another new law that takes effect next year.

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