Councilman wants to ban city employees from talking on cellphones while driving

by: Dave Huddleston Updated:

Channel 2 Action News rode around the city limits and saw plenty of city workers driving and using their cellphones.

ATLANTA - An Atlanta city councilman wants to ban city employees from talking on their cellphones unless they are using a hands-free device.

"Just one incident could be catastrophic and life changing if not life ending," said Councilman Lamar Willis. "We reduce the number of injuries, potentially, to our citizens or those who are traveling through the city limits."

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston rode around the city limits and saw plenty of city workers driving and using their cellphones.

They aren't breaking any laws, but Willis said distracted drivers cause thousands of accidents a year.

Huddleston found distracted drivers cost Atlanta tax payers millions of dollars a year.

Six lawsuits were settled this week for $60,000.

Willis said taxpayers can spend $50 to get city employees a hands-free device like a Bluetooth or spend $50,000 to settle a lawsuit.

"We settle lawsuits all the time, as it relates to our employees driving, and one of the factors that can lead to that is distraction, either by talking on the cellphone or texting on the cellphone," Willis said.

He said it's been hard to get the proposal passed because many city employees feel they have to have their cellphones.

Willis said he's working to show city employees they can pass the legislation, add some exemptions and save taxpayer money.

The bill goes before the public safety committee next Tuesday.

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