Good for Allentown.

Good for motorists and pedestrians.

Allentown council members have voted unanimously to ban people from using hand-held cell phones and similar devices to phone, text or browse while driving in their community.

Considering the number of motorists who use cell phones while driving, this is probably not a popular decision. But it is a necessary one.

Experts have described driving while using a hand held cell phone the equivalent of driving drunk. It's that dangerous. Safe driving is difficult enough without adding more distractions.

We don't know the exact figures, but it's a safe assumption that the percentage of accidents increases dramatically when a cell phone is being used.

What's so important, we ask, that a driver can't pull off the side of the road, or wait until he gets to his destination before making or taking a call. Most of us have had occasions where we saw distracted drivers on cell phones making back decisions.

Allentown's decision was approved 7-0 would go into effect 10 days after a signature by Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who supports the bill. Offenders could be fined $150 to $300, and a violation would be a primary traffic offense, meaning police could use it as a reason to pull over a motorist.

Skateboards, inline skaters and bicyclists would also be barred from using cell phones while riding.

Exceptions would be made in cases of emergency, and hands-free devices would be exempt.

Philadelphia, Erie and Harrisburg have passed similar bans.

If cities can pass such measures, why can't the state and smaller communities?

We're betting that driving in Allentown is going to be a lot safer once this ban goes into effect. It's a measure that should be considered everywhere.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]