Some state legislators want to ban cell phone use by operators of vehicles bigger than cars.
Two proposed bills would make it illegal to use cell phones or other electronic communications devices while operating trains and buses.
The ban on cell phone use by train operators apparently is already handled by federal law. NJ Transit also bans cell phone use by its train engineers and bus drivers.
A spokesman for one of the bills' sponsors, state Sen. Brian P. Stack, D-Hudson, said the measures were not prompted by any problems with train and bus operators using cell phones. The spokesman said Stack's district is "crowded" and has high pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and the bills represent a "precautionary measure."
Still, people found guilty of using a cell phone while operating a bus would face a fine of as much as $1,000 and as many as six months in jail. People found guilty of using a cell phone while operating a train face a fine ranging from $250 to $500.
Cell phone use has been connected with some rail accidents.
A National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, report issued last month said a train engineer sent a text message to a railroad fan minutes before the train crashed and killed 25 people in California last year.
Investigators described a string of safety violations, including cell phone use and text messaging, actions they said could have caused the crash. They said the engineer sent and received 44 text messages and made four phone calls - including one sent 22 seconds before the crash - while on duty.
NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said agency policies prohibit bus drivers and train engineers from using cell phones. Cell phones cannot even be within an engineer's reach, he said.
"They can't be accessible to you while operating a train," he said.
Conductors can use cell phones as "an enhanced level of communications" for things related to customer service, such as calling for help for mobility-impaired travelers, Stessel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this
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