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University Park Bans Cell Phones in School Zones

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

University Park, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter: The University Park ordinance duplicates the one in neighboring Highland Park, which was created to improve student safety. Council members said drivers talking or text messaging with cell phones can be too easily distracted. Hands-free phones are ok. Council member Kelly Walker says it makes sense to do what other cities, states, even nations have already done.

Kelly Walker, University Park City Council person: It's not new. It's another level of being able to keep our kids safe.

Zeeble: Before the final vote though, 3 residents spoke out against the ordinance. Michael Haines, holding a cell phone to his ear like a prop, made the slippery slope argument, fearing the government would take away other rights and freedoms.

Michael Haines, resident: Why not ban eating, drinking while driving, because that has proven to be a major cause of accidents. While you're at it why not ban music, screaming kids, talking passengers, dvd players, navigational devices, back seat drivers, mother in laws?

Zeeble: Parents like Cindy Folmar, waiting to pick up their children at University Park Elementary School though, like the ban, even though many use cell phones.

Cindy Folmar. I think its good not to be using a cell phone in school zone. I'm a mom. I do it now, but once they pass it, I won't.

Zeeble: Well, they passed it. It takes effect Jan 7th & violators face a 75 dollar fine. The council and police will review the policy then consider a city-wide ban in May. Bill Zeeble KERA news