Archive for Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Ban on drivers’ use of phones weighed

Commission tables plans to raise fines for using devices behind wheel

May 2, 2006


Enforceable or not, a full-scale ban on using cell phones while driving in Lawrence could be just months away.

"I have questions about enforceability," said Scott Miller, a city attorney. "It would be difficult to enforce a full ban."

Still, the Traffic Safety Commission voted Monday to table two possible ordinances that would have added penalties for using cell phones while driving.

Instead, the commission will vote in July whether to recommend a citywide ban on using any wireless device - cell phone, two-way pager or otherwise - while operating a vehicle.

The decision came after a tie vote by the six members of the commission in attendance Monday to create an additional traffic violation for causing an accident while using a phone or other wireless device. Two members of the nine-person commission were absent on Monday. One seat is vacant.

If that item passed, city staff and commissioners worried that it would be too difficult to enforce.

"We would have some untruthful drivers," Tracy Russell, a Lawrence Police officer, said at the meeting. "The enforcement would be pretty minimal."

But some commissioners thought the item - which would have recommended that people causing accidents while on the phone pay double the fine, from $60 to $120 - could work as a deterrent from driving while chatting.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," chairman John Ziegelmeyer said.

But rather than sending that item to the City Commission without a recommendation, the item was tabled after the commission came within moments of voting on a proposal to ban all city drivers from using phones while behind the wheel.

The item came to a head after commissioner Carol Bowen motioned to remove language from a second recommendation that would have restricted a cell phone ban to drivers under the age of 18.

Without the language, the item would have recommended to the City Commission that anyone found on the phone while driving would have been subject to a fine.

Several members of the public spoke in favor of a full ban.

"It doesn't make a lot of difference how old they are," Lawrence resident Bob Lewis told the commission.

Richard Heckler seconded the motion, but the issue came to a halt when city staff mentioned problems with the idea, including many professions that require people to use phones while driving on the job.

The commission gave Miller 60 days to hammer out a new plan that would allow professionals who require phones and other communication devices to use them in their vehicles, while banning use for other Lawrence residents.

The commission is expected to vote again on the issue July 3. If approved, the recommendation will go to the City Commission later this year.


Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh good grief, this issue makes me so mad I can't even comment. I will hang up my phone as soon as they get rid of the roundabouts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 10 months ago

Maybe if you'd hang up and pay attention, roundabouts wouldn't be such an issue with you, spacystaci8.

Jerry Stubbs 11 years, 10 months ago

Airplane pilots use two-way radios during the most dangerous part of the flight-- they are required to by FAA regulations.

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

just ban freedom of speech all together, just like we won't be able to comment on this message board when the PLC starts advertising on the JW and complains - like during the last election

the hypocrisy of the liberal leftists is quite amazing. i wonder if their definition of freedom is counter to its true definition - kinda like progressive means repressive & smart growth means NO growth.

gee, will the cops pull you over if you're using your cell phone like they can pull you over for not wearing your seatbelt? i'd say a seat belt is a heckofalot more important than someone using their cell phone. most people use their cell phone for business. just another way to be unfriendly to business. now, all they need is the chamber of commerce to back any cell phone ban, -to give them credibility.

i wonder if the cops will have to stop using their cell phones while driving (or will there be a double standard)?

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

i should've said, chamber of anti-commerce.

moveforward 11 years, 10 months ago

Phones, newspapers, homework, memos, work orders, maps, tacos, burgers, smoking, kissing (except at stop lights) eye liner, ipods, laptops, pda's, watches, children, pets, vidoes, conversation, - anything else we should ban while driving?

Ragingbear 11 years, 10 months ago

Just about each and every one of you, I bet that I have had near accidents with all of you as you were ranting about your so-called "freedoms" on the phone while driving. Blissfully unaware of what you were doing.

Recently, it was proven that you are at a greater disadvantage when driving with a cellphone than you are if you were driving with a .50 blood alchohol content.

So, get off the streets, you menace to societies. If you get pulled over, not only should you have your car seized, and be arrested ,but your right to have a cell phone should be taken as well.

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

would this cell phone ban apply to people flying over lawrence? kinda like the alcohol ban (unless you belong to a private club law) from the 1970's where you couldn't have an adult beverage while flying over kansas and the state attorney general was forcing commercial airliners to land while flying over kansas airspace?

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

i bet most of the people in favor of the cell phone ban don't own a car. if the ban applies to motor vehicle operators, it should apply to bicycle riders as well, and people walking across the street.

Tammy Copp-Barta 11 years, 10 months ago

Let's ban eating in the car .. I mean .. what if you choke while driving?!?!?!

Or ban KIDS in the car .. they're always arguing and distracting the driver!!!

How about talking to the passenger ... THERE's another ban .. you can't talk and concentrate on driving at the same time ..

Singing to the radio .. you can't sing and drive .. too distracting .. cause then ya just GOTTA dance and move ..

I saw a lady doing her makeup and putting on hairspray while driving this morning .. mark makeup and hairspray as another ...

Those maps .. those dreaded maps .. NO map glancing or reading while driving .. another ticket ..

The list is ENDLESS ...

monkeyhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

It is not really about cell phones, smoking, three unrelated dwellers or firecrackers. It is about the city "leaders" imposing their wills on the taxpayers and citizens of Lawrence. They are intoxicated with power and they are throwing up all over us.

Of course, they are taking their cues from Al Gore and his vision of how little commie/socialist societies should be run. We are actually an experimental mecca for those on the hill who injected themselves into Lawrence politics to try out their theories.

Tammy Copp-Barta 11 years, 10 months ago

lunacydetector ... I AGREE .. I don't know HOW many times I've almost hit Jaywalkers downtown that walk out in front of me with a cell phone attached to their ear. And you know if you hit them .. you're to blame ..

If you REALLY want to enforce something .. enforce the bicylers that don't stop at stoplights/signs. Now that IS illegal and I don't see anybody pulling THEM over for breaking the law!

nottheoneyouknow 11 years, 10 months ago

Hey, I have an idea. Maybe we could have laws banning reckless or inattentive driving! Oh, wait, we have those. Damn.

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

what about my navigation system with turn-by-turn guidance? i'm not talking back, but i am using a satellite to help guide me through our streets and a computer is talking to me....and then there is OnStar where you can talk to a person via satellite.

lunacydetector 11 years, 10 months ago

...and i couldn't agree more with lawrenceks66 and monkeyhawk. lawrence is an experiment that university professors can use as a guinea pig to try out their socialist theories.

Adrienne Sanders 11 years, 10 months ago

Well said, Monkeyhawk.

I fully agree that people should quit yakking on the phone and pay attention to their driving. But do we need a law to force us to do so? Gawd no. Give people some personal responsibility for their actions and maybe they'll be forced to develop some common sense.

mom_of_three 11 years, 10 months ago

As we know, there are numerous things which can distract a driver and different things for different people. I don't think cell phones are contributing as much as the city thinks they are.

jafs 11 years, 10 months ago

If there are already laws on the books that can be enforced regarding "inattentive driving", they should cover a variety of ways that people drive unsafely. So I'm not sure we need another law. However, I am astonished at the number of people who seem to want unlimited freedom, even when it's inconsiderate and or/dangerous to others. Dulcinea, if people used more common sense, we wouldn't need these laws - they come into being because of the lack of personal responsibility.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 10 months ago

". . . a citywide ban on using any wireless device - cell phone, two-way pager or otherwise - while operating a vehicle."

So cops will have to stop before answering the dispatcher. . . Or are they above the law?

Brent Cagle 11 years, 10 months ago

jrlii, read the whole article. It goes on to say "The commission gave Miller 60 days to hammer out a new plan that would allow professionals who require phones and other communication devices to use them in their vehicles, while banning use for other Lawrence residents"

jedre 11 years, 10 months ago

Everyone should be aware of the discussion on this issue that started yesterday:

Many of your questions will be discussed.

compmd 11 years, 10 months ago

Posted by mooner (anonymous) on May 2, 2006 at 8:23 a.m. (Suggest removal) Airplane pilots use two-way radios during the most dangerous part of the flight-- they are required to by FAA regulations.

If youre trying to say that pilots do just fine with radios, ok. If not, read on.

"the most dangerous part of the flight?" what part would that be? is that when you have to change course to avoid a small plane that doesnt respond to atc and has strayed into your path?

there are several flaws in your argument. You dont define dangerous. You assume talking on the radio is the same as a cell phone conversation. They are not the same, the pilot has a protocol that must be followed for reporting and making queries to atc. There is little actual "conversation." Also, less than 1% of people are pilots, there is a certain skill level required to fly.

You cant understand unless youve had a front row seat in an airplane with a yoke in front of you.

aircraft vhf != cell phone

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

Did I miss the part of the article that mentioned inclusion of aircraft? HAH and I was being criticized in another post for talking about "irrelevant."

I see that the concept of representative democracy is lost on some.

@jedre - yeah, some of the same junk has been re-hashed here.

Freedom of speech being eclipsed. LOL. Give me a break. I guess I can complain that I can't freely speak using a bullhorn in front of your home as violating free speech.

LJWORLD FORUM DICTIONARY Translations: dumb idea - An idea that "I" don't like. an idiot - the person who comes up with the/an unpopular idea. representative democracy- democracy only when they actually do what is OK with "me"

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 10 months ago

These people are idiots! What makes it right for some "professional" that has to use a cell phone while driving any different from me or any other citizen? If I make a cell phone call, my call is just as important as anyone elses. I use a bluetooth device and my phone has voice dial. What else can they do to make using a phone while driving any safer? I would never even consider living in Lawrence, KS now. We are selling our acreage and moving to town, but not to Lawrence. I never saw such idiocy as I see on a daily basis there. They think they can regulate every aspect of people's lives. Lawrence city government is out of control. Thank you, Lynn

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and I'm a professional, anyone can be. Thank you, Lynn

Sigmund 11 years, 10 months ago

Current process flow at City Hall: 1. Find an activity "you don't like"(tm) but which is legal. 2. Find an actual case no matter how rare, or imagine a case where someone (preferably a child, illegal immigrant, homeless, or women) is injured, by someone doing the activity "you don't like"(tm). 3. Ban the activity "you don't like"(tm). If necessary exempt those people "you do like"(tm) from the ban of the activity "you don't like"(tm). 4. Repeat.

In the alternative: 1. Find an activity "you do like"(tm), but that is not really needed. 2. Force the taxpayers to pay for the activity "you do like"(tm) but that is not really needed. 3. Raise taxes for the things you should do because you spent your money for #2. 4. Repeat.

jayhawks71 11 years, 10 months ago

@Lynn - would you like some empirical evidence to refute your claim? Bluetooth phones with voice dial have done NOTHING to make using a cell phone safer while driving. The cell phone industry has lobbied legislators with a huge snow job, in places where "hands' free" is allowed. It is perceived as safer... buy why? The research says just the opposite. The reason I offer is that we actually believe that because our government tells us something that is must be good (when it fits with our beliefs ... ie. hands-free must be "better"), but when it conflicts with our beliefs or our wants, the government is a bunch of idiots. Human behavior. Fun to watch; even more fun to study! Nothing more complex!

bige1030 11 years, 10 months ago

Cell phone usage while driving should be banned for everyone - no exceptions. I'm glad that they are going to make the law uniform, but I'm also dismayed at hearing about an exemption for "professionals." Business doesn't deserve to be held above the law that is meant to protect us. In fact, it needs to be regulated so that it doesn't harm us. I just hope that someday, those who think that business is so special as to deserve exemption from laws designed to protect us get the chance to live in such an environment. Then, when they go crying about their kids dying because of the arsenic and other pollutants in the water, they can reap what they sow.

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 10 months ago

Okay here goes...........

I was on my way to Checkers to return movies when this college girl steps out from between her car and another and I had to slam my brakes on to avoid hitting her. Of course she was on her cell chatting away and didn't see me coming.

I can just imagine her driving in her car while chatting now.

Pay attention cell drivers if you don't want to get hit.

GardenMomma 11 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting that twice in as many days this topic has garnered more comments (many idiotic and moronic) than paragraphs in either of the original articles. Also, in reading the comments today I notice that many are almost exactly the same as were mentioned yesterday. Get over it already! Why must everything turn into a this-or-that issue? Isn't it a fact that distractions while driving are a hazard? If so, then drawing attention to a very common form of distraction in today's technological world, i.e. cell phone conversations, is hardly a bad thing, is it?

topekan7 11 years, 10 months ago

Another reason to avoid Lawrence altogether...

leaderoftheband 11 years, 10 months ago

If I was an illegal immigrant, would I be immune to the ban?

badger 11 years, 10 months ago

Ragingbear said:

"Recently, it was proven that you are at a greater disadvantage when driving with a cellphone than you are if you were driving with a .50 blood alchohol content."

Care to back that up? Before you do, here's a quote from Wikipedia:

"Unless a person has developed a high tolerance, a BAC rating of 0.20 represents very serious intoxication (most first-time drinkers would be passed out by about 0.15), and 0.35 represents potentially fatal alcohol poisoning. 0.40 is the accepted LD50, or lethal dose for 50% of adult humans. "

And one from the cops at the University of Oklahoma (yeah, it's Oklahoma, but they had one of the better quotes):

"0.40 BAC and up: Onset of coma, and possible death due to respiratory arrest."

So, what you're saying is that it's been proven that while talking on a cell phone you're more dangerous a driver than someone whose blood alcohol content is significantly higher than the dosage normally associated with coma and death, the blood alcohol limit at which 50% of subjects would be expected to keel over?

Admittedly, if you're dead, you're probably not driving and you're much less likely to get in an accident than someone talking on a cell phone and driving, but I question that as a reasonable reason for comparing the two.

That said, I'd sure like it if people stopped doing whatever it is they're doing that keeps them from paying attention to the road. A ban? Pfeh. You'll only improve people's driving by banning things if you find a way to ban 'stupid'.

Jay Bird 11 years, 10 months ago

WOW! I don't even know where to start this rant. It's raining like hell, so I just leave it be. Have a good one Lawrence.

Maybe I should have txt'd this in from my phone while driving on the sidewalk.

jafs 11 years, 10 months ago

I had a similar experience with a pedestrian talking on her cellphone, and crossing the street against the light - when I tapped my horn to alert her (and protest her actions), she gave me the finger!

Michael Birch 11 years, 10 months ago

Finally, I good law to be enacted. Now, instead of being 10yrs behind the rest of the states we will be only 9.


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