Lubbock City Council takes initial look at cell phone ban for drivers
Nov 09, 2012 (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A ban on cell phones or mobile devices could be in Lubbock's future, in some form, after Lubbock's City Council held a preliminary work session brainstorming the notion.
Councilman Jim Gerlt said he put the issue on the council's agenda in hopes of seeing where other council members stand on the topic, though the council did not take action Thursday evening.
"I want to put this on the agenda some time down the road, allow more time for citizen input," Gerlt said.
The District 4 councilman said he was leery about creating another "you protecting you" rule for government to impose on citizens, but considered a law on cell phone usage a "me protecting me from you" situation.
"It's scary to me when I'm out driving around and I see the number of people texting or on all of their cell phones," he said. "I think it becomes a safety issue when you have that many distracted drivers."
Gerlt said he requested the city attorney prepare examples of two potential ordinances: One banning text messaging while driving and another banning all mobile device usage while driving.
Councilmen Todd Klein and Floyd Price said they urge drivers to avoid using mobile devices while driving but believe imposing a ban would be a practice in government overreach.
"I don't think we can legislate the morals and characters of individuals," Price said. "I truly agree you shouldn't be texting while you're driving. But I think it's time for the American citizen to pull up his bootstraps and says: 'This is a hazard.'"
Price, a 46-year-old veteran of the Lubbock Police Department and Lubbock Sheriff's Office, said he's seen government impose laws forcing drivers to wear seat belts, maintain insurance and motorcyclists to wear helmets.
"I've gone through all of this," he said. "What will we legislate later "
But Price said some form of ban on cell phone use or texting while driving could be in order.
"There comes a time when you've got to do what you've got to do," he said.
Most council members said they might support some form of cell phone use restrictions, with Todd Klein expressing the most skepticism, questing how enforceable such an ordinance would be.
Police Chief Roger Ellis said he was open to and encouraged by talk of a mobile device restriction.
"There's a lot of traffic accidents that occur, a lot of traffic violations that occur due to texting or cell phone use," he said.
But he questioned the feasibility of an officer enforcing a ban.
"The question is: 'How would an officer know the difference whether somebody is texting or plugging in coordinates in the GPS," he said.
Hernandez pushed for a cellphone ban for drivers when former Mayor Tom Martin was in office, but said he the effort fizzled out as the state legislature considered, but ultimately passed on a texting ban.
He said he supports the idea as much as he did before.
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