GB alderman floating banning cell phone use while driving

GREEN BAY – It’s a problem Alderman Jerry Wiezbiskie witnesses every day.

But it wasn’t until the snow started to pile up at his Nicolet Drive home – sometimes forcing him to venture out into the road to remove it – that the issue became dangerously clear.

“I’d say almost 90 percent of the cars that go by, they’re on the telephone,” said Wiezbiskie, “And I know they don’t see me!”

That’s why he asked the city to look into how it might go about enacting a ban for cell phone use while driving.

“This is an inattentive driving issue – as far as I’m concerned,” said Wiezbiskie.

Several cities in the state have passed more stringent laws regarding using a cell phone while driving. The idea is to potentially make the streets safer from inattentive drivers.

Earlier this month, Wausau passed an ordinance banning drivers from using hand-held electronic devices. Hands-free phones, as well as GPS devices are still alright. However, those caught violating the law have to shell out $40.

“I think it warrants – actually – a good looking into, basically,” said Wiezbiskie.

But for some people who rely on using a cell phone as a part of daily work, a ban would make earning a living more difficult.

“Just in terms of practicality, you’re – if you’re going to be delivering anything – you’re going to need a phone, to contact the customer, clarify orders, make sure if have the right location,” said Glass Nickel Pizza delivery driver Zak Quick.

Quick says hands-free devices don’t cut it, and local and state laws already cover the root problem: inattentive drivers.

“I think, pointing a finger at cell phone usage is like as far as making a difference, why not ban fast food?” said Quick.

But others say something needs to be done.

“It distracts people when they’re driving,” said Margaret Phillips of Green Bay. “Just like if somebody was drinking or whatever else, it’s just very hazardous.”

The idea is slated to go before a city committee Monday night. A state bill – similar to Wausau’s ordinance – is currently being floated in Madison.

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