West U mayor says hang up the phone

March 10, 2008 4:45:32 PM PDT
If the mayor has anything to say about it, drivers who cruise through the West University area will have to get off the phone and drive. The mayor says it's just common sense. He's pushing the city council to approve a new ordinance that in one form or another would ban cell phone use while you drive through active school zones.

It's fair to say that conditions are just short of chaotic outside West University Elementary at pickup and drop off times. Rainy days are no exception.

The principal says there were some close calls in recent months.

"This is strictly a child safety issue," said West University Elementary Principal John Threet.

So after hearing of other cities in North Texas banning cell phone use in active school zones, Mayor Bob Kelly asked the police department to study making it illegal here.

"If I am using a hand-held cell phone in my car, it's amazing at how less attentive I am than listening to a radio or even talking to somebody," said Kelly.

During the three week study, police saw from a single location, nearly 300 people driving while on their phones in a school zone. That works out to an average of more than 13 people on the phone during every morning and afternoon that parents drop of or pick up their kids.

Many parents support such a ban.

"It's hard to drive and do the cell phone at the same time," said parent Paula Doughty. "I don't think it's a bad thing."

Others say it is overly and unnecessarily restrictive.

"My question would be how many accidents have actually happened," asked parent Michelle Hoogendan. "You're infringing on someone's rights by cracking down on that."

If passed, drivng while on a cell phone in a school zone in West U would then be a misdemeanor, punishable possibly by a fine of up to $200.

The West University Place City Council will not make a final decision immediately.

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