More on the West U cellphone ban proposal

The proposed ban by the city of West University Place on cellphone use in school zones that we heard about last week gets some more coverage in the Chron.

Houston-area officials are watching West University Place as elected officials there consider banning cell phones in the school zone near the community’s lone elementary campus.

The move would put the affluent suburb on the map as the first Houston-area municipality to take a stand against drivers talking on their phones as children travel to and from school. The community is following in the footsteps of Dallas and several North Texas suburbs that have recently approved bans.

“We’ll be watching with interest to see what happens,” said Linda Clarke, director of education and special projects for Houston Mayor Bill White. “We’ll certainly be looking and wanting to know more about it.”

It won’t surprise me at all if Houston follows West U’s lead on this. It’s hard to argue against this kind of ordinance, and if someone else is willing to do the shakedown cruise for you, why not consider it? I give it six months, tops, if West U adopts this.

West University proposed the ban earlier this month after conducting a study to determine how often drivers were spotted chatting on their cell phones in active school zones. Over three weeks in February, police counted 297 drivers on their phones.

Six of the drivers violated traffic laws by creeping into intersections while children and crossing guards were present, West University police Lt. Thad Olive said.

Although neither Olive nor HISD police officials could recount an incident when a child was seriously injured in a school zone because of a driver on a cell phone, they said this type of ordinance could prevent tragedy.

“There’s been a lot of near misses,” Olive said. “It definitely has distracting effects. If I can take one element of risk away from the children in that school zone, then it’s a good thing.”

I said before that I didn’t think West U’s numbers were all that eye-opening. The previous report said there were 48 violations, of which six were by cellphone-wielders. That may sound more impressive to you than it did to me, but six violations out of 297 drivers sure does sound puny. Again, I don’t think this argues against adopting the ban – it really is a small thing to ask to make a potentially deadly situation even a bit less likely – I’m just saying I don’t expect the ordinance to have much impact.

Oh, and what exactly does “creeping into the intersection” mean, at least in terms of moving violations? I seem to recall in Driver’s Ed that one was taught to stop at the stop line, then move forward as needed to verify that it was clear to proceed. Am I misinterpreting the law, or are we really talking about roll-stopping here? Just curious.

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One Response to More on the West U cellphone ban proposal

  1. PDiddie says:

    I believe if your bumper moves into the pedestrian crossing area — which is always clearly delineated by a broad white strip — then that’s a violation (but I could be mistaken).

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