Councilmen call for cell-phone ban - Philadelphia News

August 19, 2008 5:34:11 PM PDT
Philadelphia City councilmen Bill Greenlee and Bill Green are drafting legislation to ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving in Philadelphia. The councilmen are working on the bill during summer recess hoping to get feedback on the idea.

"I think it's a safety issue on a personal level, my son's totaled my car because a lady was on the cell phone when she hit my car," Patricia Edwards said.

"I'm growing tired of the way legislators are trying to control the way I live my life," John Marchesch of Cincinnati, Ohio said.

Young men visiting Philadelphia from the UK say cell-phones have been banned there for 2 years, and police are tough on violators.

"You get pulled over and it'll be 3 points on your license. If you get 12 points, you lose your license and have to retake your test," David Syncamore of the United Kingdom said.

The councilmen want to also outlaw text-messaging and surfing the Internet while driving.

They're hoping to make driving and cellphone-holding a primary offense, punishable by a ticket and fine.

Lafayette Hill attorney, Phillip Berg, successfully challenged a cell-phone ban in Hilltown Township, Bucks County, in 2000. He says it's not about what you hold in your hand.

"Whether you're using hand-held, blue tooth that you hang on your ear, or speaker phone, it's the level of concentration," Berg said.

He says cell phone bans in Conshohocken, West Conshohocken, and Lebanon are rarely enforced.

Berg says he recognizes that the law states both hands should be on the wheel of you vehicle.

"People don't keep both hands on the wheel for many reasons, to change the radio, to change the heat or air conditioning."

"Obviously, you can't outlaw everything that might be distracting, but I think you use what is the more common sense approach," Bill Greenlee (D) Councilman-at-large said.

In 2006, Pennsylvania Transportation officials reported more than 1,200 accidents were caused by drivers using hand-held cell phones.

That same year, only 60 accidents were attributed to motorists using hands-free devices.

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