AUGUSTA – The Republican-controlled Maine Senate has supported a bill that would prohibit people from using hand-held cellphones while driving.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 24-10 in favor of rejecting the Transportation Committee’s recommendation that the bill be killed. The Senate then gave the bill initial approval, sending it to the Democratic-led House for consideration.

Republican Sen. Roger Katz’s bill would still allow people to use hands-free devices to talk on the phone. He said that distractions caused by hand-held cellphones have become a bigger public safety hazard on the road than drunken driving. He said 14 states have passed similar laws.

Opponents say the bill is unnecessary because Maine already outlaws distracted driving and question whether it would really solve the problem.