Pascagoula Police support cell phone ban

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - You don't have to look too far to find someone on the road chatting on a cell phone.

"One hundred times a day. I live and breathe by my cell phone," driver Richard McGee said.

"I make a lot of calls, and I receive a lot of calls," driver Robert Weber said.

The popular practice is not so popular with Pascagoula Police Sergeant John Ledbetter. He wants to see the talking and driving stopped.

"I don't think they realize how dangerous it is," Ledbetter said.

The National Safety Council agrees, and is pushing for a nationwide ban. The group says the practice increases the risk of crashes and can lead to fatalities.

"I understand the Safety Council's argument about banning all cell phones. We had people admit before that the contributing circumstance to their accident was simply talking on a cell phone, and 'I didn't pay attention,'" Ledbetter said.

Right now only six states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. Mississippi has no law restricting the use of cell phones.

"We as police officers don't want to see you citizens get hurt because someone is careless and used their cell phone."

While the police look at cell phones as a distraction, some drivers say the device can be a big help and a safety tool during dangerous situations.

"You're not sure where you will end up. You can have a flat tire or be lost," Weber said.

Weber and McGee say they want state legislators to think long and hard before passing a strict law.

"People like me, you have to have your cell phone. That is how you make your living."

The National Safety Council's president says 50 studies were done before the group reached the decision to back a complete ban of cell phone use while driving.

One study estimates that six percent of vehicle crashes in the U.S. are attributed to cell phone use.