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Kilgore hangs up on cellphone driving ban

By Charlotte Heldenbrand cheldenbrand@news-journal.com
July 27, 2011 at 10 p.m.


KILGORE - Initially receiving a busy signal on a vote to ban motorists from using a cell phone or texting while driving in town, the Kilgore City Council was deadlocked 2-2 Tuesday night until Mayor Ronnie Spradlin voted against enacting such an ordinance.

Councilman Randy Renshaw, who called for the ban, said it would be worth it, "If we save one life through our ordinance."

He recounted a business owner telling him he was almost hit by a woman who was texting while driving. "He told me 'Y'all really need to do this. I do not allow my employees to text' (and drive) " said Renshaw, who along with Neil Barr, the second to his motion, voted in favor of the ordinance. Councilmen Harvey McClendon and Bobby Hale voted against, as did the mayor to break the tie.

Considered a misdemeanor, the penalty for talking on a cellphone or text-messaging would have been $200 for each offense, upon conviction.

Preserving the lives of motorists, their passengers and pedestrians outweighs the dangers to civil liberties, according to Renshaw.

"I agree with Harvey. I don't want to infringe on individual freedoms … I feel very strongly about it (the ordinance)," Renshaw said. "I've almost run off the road just talking on the phone. I'll admit to that."

He noted that with the Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry failing to enact a state-wide ban on drivers using cell phones while operating vehicles, it puts the burden on local governing bodies.

The mayor said, "Sure wish the state would have done something."

At the 2-2 deadlock when it came time for approving the ordinance, Rob Schleier, city attorney, told Spradlin, "If you abstain, it fails."

The mayor voted against it, saying that he believes there should be more consensus among the council before passing such a ban.

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