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Published: Tuesday, 8/5/2008

Bowling Green debates ban on driving while on cell

BOWLING GREEN - Drivers here may soon have to pull over if they want to make a call.

City Council further discussed a proposed ban on talking and text messaging on cell phones while driving. The issue came up at a meeting of council's transportation and safety committee last night.

The potential ban would still allow hands-free phones to be used, and would make exceptions for police and fire officials, as well as people using their phones in emergencies. The ban would be enforceable as a primary offense, like speeding.

Republican at-large councilman Bob McOmber, who introduced the proposal for safety reasons, said there seems to be widespread support for the idea.

The police chief and prosecutor are "not particularly in favor" of enacting the ban, Mr. McOmber said. Other opponents say the ban would limit personal freedom, and cities don't legislate against eating or applying makeup while driving.

The councilman said he came up with the idea for the legislation based on observations of people talking and driving, as well as reading about other places that have restricted cell-phone use behind the wheel. New York, Connecticut, and California all forbid use of hand-held phones statewide while driving

Council will have a committee of the whole meeting Sept. 15 to gather public input. Mr. McOmber said he anticipates a vote on the ban by mid-October.

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