A new state law, co-sponsored by State Senator Julie Morrison, will help prevent distracted driving by keeping cell phones out of people’s hands. The law does not prohibit using a hands-free device to make or answer a call.

“Every year, thousands of people die in car crashes caused by distracted drivers,” Morrison said. “Keeping people’s hands on the wheel will help save lives.”

The new law prohibits using a phone without a hands-free device, which can either be a speakerphone system or a headset. Pressing a single button to activate a voice-operated system or answer the phone is also permitted.

The purpose of the law is to keep drivers’ eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, while still providing a reasonable opportunity to make and receive phone calls.

The first violation results in a small fine and is not considered a moving violation that would go on the driver’s record. Subsequent violations result in larger fines and are considered moving violations.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.