Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2001

City Council does not support ban on drivers using cell phones in city

July 11, 2001

The issue of banning drivers from using cell phones while in the city has found a busy signal.

Before a work session started Monday, July 9, the Basehor City Council took a brief 15 -minute break to discuss the issue in executive session with Mayor Bill Hooker.

"We discussed it with Bill and told him there wasn't any support," City Council member Chris Garcia said. "When he found out there wasn't any support it was dropped."

Whether Hooker is still in favor of the ban on cell phones is not known.

"It had no council support so it is a dead issue," Hooker said.

Hooker had no further comments regarding the cell phone ban.

Before the work session, the City Council was expected to discuss the issue at the request of Hooker, who had expressed a desire to ban cell phone use while driving through a new ordinance he had previously prepared.

If the cell phone ban was approved by the City Council, it would have made Basehor the first city in Kansas with such an ordinance.

Most recently, the New York legislature passed an ordinance making the use of cell phones while driving illegal throughout the state. City officials in Chicago have also openly discussed a similar ban.

Although there was no vote on the issue, Garcia said the decision to not pursue the ban was a unanimous choice by the council.

"We have more important things to do in the city," Garcia said. "It just wasn't necessary."

"If this was a big city with people driving 60-70 miles per hour it might be necessary but we don't have that," Garcia added.

City Council member Joe Odle also did not support the ban.

"There are a lot of people who talk on their phone while driving," Odle said. "What is the difference between talking to someone in the back seat and talking to someone on the phone? I am an employee of the state and I do most of my business on the phone while I'm driving."

Both Odle and Garcia said they had not heard from many Basehor residents who were in favor of the ban.

The issue of banning cell phone use while driving could appear before the City Council at a later date, Garcia said.

In the future, should the Kansas legislature choose to ban cell phone use while driving, the council would then probably take a look at doing the same.

"If the state decided to do something with it, then there would be the possibility we would, too," Garcia said.

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