West U stands firm against AT&T

Despite the pushback they have gotten from AT&T over the proposed ban on cellphones in school zones, with or without hands-free gadgets, the city of West University Place is holding firm in its desire to pass that ordinance.

West U Mayor Bob Kelly said he has “absolutely not” gotten any adverse reaction to the council’s decision.

“From my pharmacist to the people I work with, to residents of West U, I have heard nothing but praise,” Kelly said. “I did get one e-mail from a West U resident who said, basically, that we shouldn’t have a cell phone ordinance.”

Kelly said he remains convinced that a ban on all cell phone use in school zones — whether the phones are hand-held or hands-free — is in the interest of public safety.

Scientific studies show the issue is the distraction caused by conversations, whether a driver is holding the cell phone or using a hands-free device, Kelly said.

“Unless AT&T comes up with something to refute the scientific evidence, I don’t see any reason the council won’t go ahead and pass the ordinance,” Kelly said. “I think AT&T is a fine company. I just think it may not be in their best business interest.”

West U Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fry said he’s received more e-mails about the ordinance than any other issue during his first year on the council. Those e-mails have been “overwhelmingly” supportive of the cell phone ban, Fry said.

As the city’s representative on the Houston-Galveston Area transportation policy committee, Fry said officials from a number of other area cities have commented positively on the West U ordinance.

“It is being watched very closely, so closely that AT&T has come down on us,” Fry said.

“It did bother me, I have to admit it did,” Fry said. “But you think about it, and it’s just right.”

Again, I’m fine with this ordinance, though I admit I can see AT&T’s perspective in wanting there to be a uniform statewide standard. If they want to lobby for that in the Lege – and by that, I mean actually work to craft a law that will address the issue and get passed – I’d support that effort. In the meantime, I don’t object to what West U is doing, and if their law and that of places like Highland Park causes that kind of state law to come about by other means, that’s okay too.

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2 Responses to West U stands firm against AT&T

  1. I’m curious — is talking on a hands-free device any more dangerous statistically than speaking with another person in the vehicle?

  2. My limited layman’s understanding of the difference between the two is that a passenger in the car can see when it’s a good time to speak and when it’s a good time to pause and let you concentrate on driving; obviously, this is not something that a person on the phone can do. As such – and I’m sure I’m grossly oversimplifying here – there is a difference, and talking on the phone, handsfree or not, is more dangerous.

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