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New Jersey Lawmaker Calls For Ban On Drivers Texting While Stopped

WATCHUNG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A push was under way in New Jersey Thursday to ban texting by drivers stopped at red lights or stop signs.

As CBS2's Christine Sloan reported, New Jersey currently allows drivers to text when they are stopped – but a lawmaker said that is dangerous too,

At red lights, CBS2 found heads down – with drivers taking a moment to send a text or look at their phones when they're stopped.

That is because it is legal to text at red lights or stop signs in New Jersey.

"I am definitely guilty of this, though I think I should definitely be more and try not to text at red lights -- because you're just not aware of your surroundings," said Kate Sidlowski of Warren.

"As a mom, I would agree that I would prefer she wouldn't text while driving at all or even have her phone out, although I'm probably guilty of it too," said Kate Sidlowski's mother, Karen Sidlowski. "But I do think it is distracting no matter what."

It is also legal to text at a red light in New York state, but not for commercial vehicles. It is illegal to text at red lights in Connecticut.

"I think it's bad because when you do that you're not with the flow of the traffic; your eyes are not looking forward," said state New Jersey Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex County).

Codey is a sponsor for one of two bills in the New Jersey Statehouse that would ban texting at red lights and stop signs. The state already has hefty fines for texting while driving.

Codey said texting in general is more dangerous than drunken driving, because it takes the eyes away from the road.

And CBS2 witnessed many drivers who had been looking down at their phones at red lights went right on using them as they drove off.

"We need mothers against texting and cell phone use while driving," Codey said.

CBS2 had a hard time finding anyone who thinks texting behind the wheel anytime is a good idea.

"My opinion on that is that I think for the safety of everyone, we should avoid texting," one driver said.

As for the bill to ban texting at red lights and stop signs, if it becomes law, it would allow New Jersey to get federal money for public service campaigns on distracted driving.

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