Cities ban cellphone use behind the wheel

But Mayor says no local laws planned for Lucas

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.

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.

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, just that I am unaware of such plans.”

Lucas does not face the same problems as do the larger cities”

— Lucas Mayor Rebecca Mark

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. “The two cities [who have enacted the ban] are San Antonio and Austin. These two cities are very different from our area, in terms of density of population and traffic congestion. Major higher speed freeways run throughout both cities. Although there are certainly some areas of town where certain roads and intersections become very congested at peak usage times, Lucas does not face the same problems as do the larger cities as respects traffic control and congestion.”

If necessary or if suggested, the town would be open to enacting such a ban in the Lucas area.

“I am of the opinion that there are state laws in effect that allow for penalties for distracted driving, whatever the source,” Mark said. “I think that laws specifically addressing usage of cell phones may have their place in discouraging that specific behavior, but I am just not sure that we are to that point in Lucas at this time. However, 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. Of course, we do have bans in place for school zones.”

Although the use of cellphones while driving isn’t banned in the Lovejoy area, there are areas and times when it is illegal to use a cellphone behind the wheel.

“As far as seeing people violating the law on using cellphones in a school zone, I don’t see it as often as someone else may because a lot of people will see me in my uniform and put their phones down real quick,” school resource officer Mark Mitchell said. “But I did talk to a principal at one of the elementary schools and they have noticed a large amount of parents violating the law, but when I have gone down there to stand, I don’t see any. So I think with them seeing me first they’ll put down their phones.”

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

“I’m sure with technology, they would have something that they could place in cars, and it’s good not just for school zones,” Mitchell said. “As the car is in gear, it blocks or does not allow the cell phone to be used, except for through the hands free devices like through the radios. That way people would pay more attention to their driving.”