Drivers in Helena in the United States who use handheld cell phones while behind the wheels of a motor vehicle could be pulled over and faced with fines of up to $100 from next month after the City Commission decided to pass an ordinance on Monday night.
The new ordinance prohibits drivers from using any prohibited mobile device such as a handheld cell phone, camera or laptop computer while operating vehicles, including both cars and bikes, within the city limits. However, the use of hands free devices will still be allowed due to an amendment to the ordinance proposed by Commissioner Dan Ellison, which was supported by both the Mayor and two other Commissioners.
Local residents appeared to be split on the ban, with many wanting no legislation at all and worrying about personal liberties, with others demanding a complete ban of all use of new and old cell phones while driving, including hands free devices. Ellison noted that the spectrum of opinions ranged from complete disapproval of the ban and complete approval, with some feeling it did not go far enough.
“I would like to see y’all stand up for safety, not selfish convenience,” said local resident George McCauley. Many others were aghast at the proposal, citing cell phones as being their “lifelines”, to which Commissioner Cartwright noted that the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle would still be legal in the event of a genuine emergency.