Cities ban cell phone use behind the wheel

CJ Vogel

More and more cities in America are taking measures to reduce distractions while driving, but locally there are no plans to prevent people from using their phones while behind the wheel.

By Annabelle Archer, Lovejoy High School

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Bans on the use of cellphones while driving are creeping closer to Dallas as Austin and San Antonio are the latest cities to make it illegal to use a phone behind the wheel of a car. But locally, there’s no such law on the horizon.

“There have been no requests from any council members, or recommendations from any staff members to enact a similar ban to the ones passed by San Antonio and Austin,” Lucas Mayor Rebecca Mark said. “I am also not aware of any of our larger surrounding suburban cities that have enacted such bans. That is not to say that they may not be currently under consideration.”

The significantly smaller size of Lucas may make such a ban a long ways off.

“No one disagrees that distracted driving can lead to tragic consequences,” Mark said. “San Antonio and Austin are very different from our area in terms of density of population and traffic congestion. Major higher speed freeways run throughout both cities. Lucas does not face the same [magnitude of traffic] problems.”

Although the use of cellphones while driving isn’t banned in the Lovejoy area, there are areas and times when it is illegal, such as in school zones. School resource officer Mark Mitchell said that he doesn’t see that behavior often. “A lot of people will see me in my uniform and put their phones down real quick.”

The growing number of cities banning cellphone use while driving may continue to increase, but enhanced hands-free technology could make the bans unnecessary to a certain extent.

Mark said that while laws specifically addressing usage of cell phones may work, she isn’t sure Lucas is ready for such laws. If necessary or if suggested, however, she said the town would be open to enacting such a ban. “If requested to do so by a number of our citizens, then certainly I and all of council would be very willing to listen with open minds.”