Members of the city's Traffic Safety Commission on Monday unanimously agreed to have the city's legal department draft an ordinance to ban drivers from using cell phones in Lawrence.
Monday's action from the advisory board followed the advice of David Woosley, city traffic engineer, to let legal counsel study the issue and return a possible ordinance for consideration to the traffic commission.
While two traffic commissioners indicated they would support a citywide ban, Woosley said traffic commissioners would probably have to wait two to three months before seeing a drafted ordinance. Then they would decide what to recommend to the city commission.
At Monday's meeting, traffic commissioners discussed issues surrounding a ban, including its enforceability and whether local governments or the state should first consider the issue.
Some traffic commissioners said as cell phone use increased, it made drivers more prone to accidents around the city, particularly in a university town.
"For that reason, I think it's something that should be considered," said Traffic Commissioner Carol Bowen. "However, if it's not enforceable, I don't know if we could do it."
Traffic Commissioner Robert Hagen said he thought the state Legislature should first consider the possible ban and if they refused it, then it would be more in the hands of local governments.
"I disagree with you," said Commissioner Caleb Morse. "I think Lawrence has a perfect right to break ground where we think we need to break ground."
"I'd like to see our legal counsel get a shot at this because I sanction it myself," said Commissioner Richard Heckler.
Heckler and Morse were the only two who clearly indicated they would support a ban. The request for a draft of an ordinance passed unanimously with a voice vote.
Before the vote, Bob Lewis, who originally requested the cell phone ban, addressed traffic commissioners and urged them to send an ordinance to city commissioners that at least stopped "novice" drivers from using cell phones.
"A lot of people are paying more attention to their conversations than their driving," said David Beust, of Lawrence, who also supports a ban.