Texting legislation hot at local level

iphone texting keys for legislation storyCities and counties around the nation are scrambling to adopt bans on text messaging, tired of waiting for state legislatures to act on what is almost universally perceived as a highway menace.

(Post updated for correction; original post from March 27, 2009)

In one New York county, a local legislator said simply: “The state is not acting fast enough.”

New York’s swarm of local traffic legislation against text messaging and use of handheld phones usually is credited to a similar lack of urgency in Albany.

A Philadelphia ban on use of handheld cell phones while driving is near enactment. A police official said he hopes it will “send a strong message to Harrisburg that the time has come.”

In Ontario County, N.Y., a ban on text messaging while driving is about to come to a final vote. The county was the site of a texting-related crash that killed five teenagers.

Cleveland continues to consider outlawing texting while driving. “I think the overall premise of using a cell phone while driving in your hand has to be eliminated throughout the state of Ohio,” sponsor Councilman Zachary Reed says.

In Schuyler County, N.Y., a ban on texting by motorists went into effect March 16.

In recent months:

In Wisconsin, The city of Kenosha has banned text messaging and driving. The fine is up to $500. Waupaca County has banned handheld cell phone use by drivers and text messaging.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade commissioners banned motorists from use of texting devices and cell phones while in school zones.

In Monroe County, Ind., text messaging while driving has been banned. The ordinance, which calls for a $25 fine, also prohibits motorists’ use of the Internet.

In Oneida County, New York, the Board of Legislators is considering a county-wide ban on text messaging while driving. “The state is not acting fast enough,” said Legislator Ed Welsh, R-Utica.

In Schenectady County, New York, local legislators banned text messaging while driving. The ordinance, approved in an 11-2 vote on Dec. 10, brings a $150 fine for violators.

In Gallup, N.M., the city council voted Dec. 11 to punish distracted driving resulting from text messaging, cell phones, applying make-up, etc.

On the cell phone front, Atlas Township, Michigan, is considering banning cell phone use by drivers on a specific highway, M-15. Several Detroit-area communities have acted to keep drivers from using cell phones.

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