POSTED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 8:15am
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 2:12pm
The days of driving around El Paso, chatting or texting away on your cell phone, are now numbered.
In a 5-3 vote today, El Paso City Council voted to approve an ordinance that bans hand held cell phone use and texting for drivers in city limits.
"I think it's something that we may not see the immediate effect of, but over time we will notice the number of accidents will decrease," said Representative Rachel Quintana, who proposed the ban.
Representatives Beto O'Rourke, Carl Robinson and Eddie Holguin voted against the ban.
They're concerned it won't make streets safer, because there's limited statistical evidence to back up the claims that cell phones are dangerous in the hands of drivers.
"There is no data that establishes that using cell phones causes accidents," said Robinson.
El Pasoans who showed up to speak at city hall are also divided over the issue.
"Banning it isn't going to stop it. Banning something only makes people go underground. Instead of holding my phone up and dialing it, I'll put it down, look down and run into something," said John Joyner, who doesn't think the ban will work.
But supporters of the ban see it differently.
“It is absolutely insane to allow people to talk on the phone and drive at the same time," said one El Pasoan.
The ban begins April 1st.
Hands-free devices are allowed to be used with cell phones.
Anyone who violates it could face a fine of up to $500.