Denton Asks for Public's Input on Cell Phone Driving Ban

By Brian Scott
|  Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013  |  Updated 4:31 PM CDT
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Denton Asks for Public's Input on Cell Phone Driving Ban

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The City of Denton is asking for the public’s help deciding on a proposed ban of electronic devices while driving.

Residents can voice their opinions and vote in a poll on the city-sponsored website  Engage Denton.com.
 
The council asked for the public’s input on the matter after the topic of a device ban came up at a council work session on Oct. 1.
 
At the meeting, members heard from staff on behalf of the city’s Transportation Safety Commission about a possible ordinance against the use of wireless communication devices while driving - including talking and texting on a phone.
 
Discussion also branched out to other devices and distractions such as using a GPS or tablet while operating a vehicle.
 
As of Wednesday, about three out of five of the respondents said they would agree with a sweeping ban on electronic devices while driving.
 
Many commented that the communications can wait until the car’s stopped and that it’s a smart move for safety that other communities have already adopted.
 
"I think just for safety, I think it's a good idea,” said Whitney Geldon of Denton.
 
Many people are also standing by the city in going beyond a simple texting ban as public safety leaders say it would actually be easier to enforce as an all-out device ban.
 
"Not just texting,” agreed Benjamin Roman. “Texting's bad because it takes your eyes down from the road but speaking as well can be difficult."
 
However others say the speaking portion can be down-right necessary and banning cell phone use altogether would not be the right move.
 
"It would be hard to enforce because there's some things that, like GPS and like emergency calls,” said Gercia Rangel.
 
Denton realtor Virginia Williams says her phone is a necessity for her business. Williams adds that her car tends to be her office most days as she goes from property to property and meeting to meeting.
 
"I'm in my car from the time I get up until I go home at night,” said Williams.
 
She says a ban on phone use while driving would be a major blow for realtors as they have to keep in close contact with clients as they’re on the move.
 
"It would be very difficult, it would be very difficult. It would almost be impossible,” she said.
 
Williams says safety is still a top concern despite business though. She and her firm utilize hands-free link-ups in their vehicles to limit the distraction and keep both hands on the wheel.
 
It’s unclear at this point if the ordinance would involve hands-free devices.
 
During council comment on Oct. 1, staff and members mentioned that any enforcement would likely result in an officer seeing a phone or device in a person’s hands being used.
 
There was also discussion about other distractions like eating while driving or reading.
 
At this point, the ordinance is just in the draft phase as the council continues to explore public opinion on the matter.

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