Wausau considers regional ban on cell phone use while drivingcell phone use while driving.
By: Glen Moberg, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Political leaders in the Wausau area are considering a regional ban on cell phone use while driving. The city is drafting a law that could be passed in other regional communities.
The Wausau Public Health and Safety committee voted this week to draft an ordinance that would ban cell phone use in cars, based on laws that are already in effect in nearby Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids. Alderman Romey Wagner says the committee is responding to the concerns of local residents. “They see people talking on their phones and actually have had close calls themselves in getting small fender benders. One gentleman actually was hit on his motorcycle by someone on a cell phone.”
The ordinance is being drafted by the city's legal department, and will be passed around to the surrounding communities of Schofield, Rothschild, Kronenwetter and Weston. Wagner says the goal is to have all the communities pass the same ordinance at the same time. “All the municipalities, so that there's no confusion as to, 'as soon as I cross the line, then I can do this, or when I go across the line, I can't do that.' It's important to show that this is a way we can work together before we legislate this in Wausau.”
Leaders in other communities would be receptive to a ban, according to Wally Sparks, chief of the Everest Metro Police Department, which patrols nearby Weston and Schofield. “We had previously discussed this both in Weston and Schofield and they were receptive to the idea of the cell phone ordinance,” Sparks said, “but one of the criteria was that [in] trying to apply this, it would be best done on a regional basis.”
The regional ban would probably cover hand-held calls, but allow hands-free conversations.