Is AR bill banning cell phones near schools enforceable? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Is AR bill banning cell phones near schools enforceable?

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Legislature has passed a bill prohibiting the use of cell phones in school and construction zones when students and workers are present.

Corporal John Shipman is one of 2 Resource Officers at Valley View. In the morning he is responsible for directing 6 lanes of traffic.  Shipman says he sees a lot of folks on the phone.

"It's kind of funny that at 7:30 in the morning that many people got some kind of conversation that they got to have."

At mid-morning the street running though Valley View is quiet. But it's not always like this.

Shipman, "We see an estimated 11 hundred cars a day."

New legislation is addressing the issue of being on the phone while driving in certain locations.

Arkansas Senate Bill 154, which is designed to improve safety of highways and roads, prohibits the use of cell phones in school zones and highway work zones when students and workers are present.

Shipman, "We have students that cross the streets in between every class every 50 minutes. Technically all day long we have children present." The zone is nearly a mile long where a road splits the High School from the Junior High and Middle Schools. Even with speed bumps there is still a lot of traffic and phone users. Shipman says with a school, a student can come out of any door at any time and cross the street.

The bill is quite specific as to what you can not do on the phone from talking to texting to accessing the Internet. One important part of the new law is that it will be a secondary offense.

Shipman says as much as he would like to be able to stop drivers on the phone he won't be able to.

Shipman, "They have to commit another offense, a primary before they can be stopped and then cited for the cell phone use." And just the enforcement alone will be an issue at a school. Resource officers are concerned with directing traffic in the drop off and pick up zones, they will be unable to chase down violators.

Keeping kids safe in a school zone is extremely important but the new law also says you have to put the phone down in a construction site when workers are present.

Bo James who is the Craighead County Road Foreman says they don't usually put large crews on the roads.

James, "The biggest crew we have right now is our blacktopping crew and we have 8 to 10 people out there at a time working on the side of the road."

State Highway crews are apt to be much larger but the law doesn't set limits on what constitutes highway crews, all the same from 1 to 100. Danger from drivers is the same.

James, "People calling and texting and coming through work zones and it's difficult to do stuff and keep the safety of our guys in the work zone because of that." James says that sometimes workers are only a foot away from traffic since most of their work is done on 2 lane roads.

But whether it's a school zone or construction zone the bill is designed to prevent something terrible from happening.

James, "They need to do something to slow them down and get away from the phones before somebody gets killed. "

Governor Beebe is expected to sign the bill into law and it should go into effect on October First.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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