A House bill that would ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving was approved Monday by the House Transportation Committee.

The vote was 8-3, sending the measure to the full House for debate.

Similar bills have won committee approval by the same panel but were later defeated.

In 2009, the House approved a similar ban but it later died in a Senate committee.

The legislation is House Bill 338 by state Rep. Charmaine Stiaes, D-New Orleans.

Backers contend the change is needed to improve highway safety.

“Your attention is a little better than it would be if you had your hand off the steering wheel,” Stiaes told the committee.

Critics say the measure represents government intrusion on personal choice.

Stiaes said similar laws are on the books in nine states, including California, New York, New Jersey and Oregon, and the District of Columbia.