No Cell Phone While Driving In Lakewood

Drivers in Lakewood have 90 days to get used to the idea that they need to put the phone down while they are operating a moving car. At their September 3rd meeting Lakewood City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to use your phone while driving.

The ordinance reads: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on any street, highway or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, or to dial, talk, answer or listen for the purposes of making an audible communication.” 

After this there is a long list of exemptions including a driver “whose motor vehicle is in a stationary position and who is outside a lane of travel.” Which means if you want to make a call, pull over.

In a discussion on the Lakewood Observer’s Observation Deck, Ward Four Councilman Dan O’Malley clarified several issues that were confusing to residents regarding whether you are able to touch your phone at all while driving.

“Built-in vehicle navigation systems can continue to be used,” he said. “GPS devices or phones with GPS apps can continue to be used so long as they're mounted on the dash and involve ‘one-touch’ commands, voice commands, etc. However, typing in an entire address, for example, should not be done while driving.”

Calls can still be made and received if a ‘one-touch’ system is used and “the device is not hand-held.” 

The list of exemptions also includes using your phone for contact with law enforcement or emergency purposes.

Reactions from residents were mixed, from one who joked, suggesting that at every red light he put his car in park and get on Facebook, to those against it who complained about the “nanny state” or speculated that it was a way for the city of Lakewood to raise funds.

One resident who made it quite clear why she supported the new ordinance was Bridget Conant who said: “I think that these automobile laws are necessary given that a vehicle is 2-3000 pounds of metal that can kill if the operator isn’t controlling the vehicle. Just like restricting alcohol and drug use while driving, it seems we need to look at the ubiquitous cell phone as another distraction that can be implicated as a cause of numerous accidents and deaths. 

Should we have to tell people to keep their attention on the road while driving? In a perfect world, maybe not. But I’ve seen FAR too many drivers looking down at, or fumbling with their phones and missing stop signs, veering out of their lane, running red lights, and not noticing pedestrians in crosswalks. 

Had it not been SO apparent that cell phone usage while driving is a hazard, maybe we wouldn’t need these laws. But the fact is, we do. And I hope law enforcement ENFORCES these laws and people realize that they will be held accountable for their behavior which puts themselves and others at risk of injury and death.” 

The law goes into effect at the end of November. To see the full ordinance and the complete list of exemptions, go to http://www.onelakewood.com/accordions/city-ordinances/.

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Volume 15, Issue 18, Posted 3:47 PM, 09.18.2019