Philly: Shut Up and Drive

Philly's new ban on cell phones

Philadelphia's City Council voted, unanimously, Thursday to ban cell phones for drivers, bikers and skaters. Hands-free devices like Bluetooth headsets are okay.

"A driver using a cell phone to dial a number or to send a text message is potentially as dangerous to others as a driver who has been drinking," said Councilman Bill Green. "They are simply not giving their full attention to the road and that puts us all at risk."

The new law keeps drivers from clutching their phones while driving – whether for chatting, text messaging or emailing (yes, people do check their email on the road!). Mayor Michael Nutter says, don't worry, he'll sign the cell phone bill into law in the next few days.

Of course there's some opposition. Outspoken Montgomery County lawyer Phillip Berg pledged to represent anyone who gets ticketed for breaking the law. First-time offenders face a $50 fine.

Berg is known for spearheading an outlandish lawsuit claiming Barack Obama was not an American citizen. He asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Obama from taking office. His suit was obviously dismissed.

Studies show drivers who use cell phones are more distracted than those who don't. One study shows it's as fatal a distraction as driving drunk.

"Dialing a phone number or sending a text message while driving will no longer be tolerated in the City of Philadelphia and I predict lives will be saved as a result," said Councilman Rizzo. Even though cell phones are an integral part of our daily lives, "using a cell phone while driving can turn a trip to the grocery store into a trip to the emergency room," Rizzo said.

Philly police are totally on board. "There is no debate: cell phones and driving don't mix," Lt. Francis Healy said earlier this year, referring to the study comparing cell phone use while driving to drunk driving.

"I've witnessed drivers using cell phones swerve from lane to lane, run red lights and stop signs, and pass school buses, oblivious to the tragedies that could have been created," Healy said. "It is a safety issue plain and simple."

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