The matter came back to the Council at a September 15 meeting and members, by concensus, directed staff to prepare a draft ordinance for future consideration.
Penwarden has argued that the City must act to benefit public safety because he doesn’t think the state legislature will implement such a prohibition. Kingman Police Chief Bob Devries said a statewide law would be best for uniformity and enforcement, but he also said he is supportive of the prohibition to prevent dangerous distracted driving.
Local resident Theresa Evans told Council members she has seen local motorists endanger themselves and others by putting on makeup or eating while driving. Evans said she has even witnessed someone change a baby’s diaper while driving.
Council member Stuart Yocum also noted potential danger when drivers eat or fiddle with GPS. He questioned whether targeting hand held devices is too limited and whether any ordinance might instead be more all encompassing.
Council member Larry Carver drew chuckles when he joked he didn’t know whether eating while driving should be prohibited.
“I’d really have to cut down on lunches,” Carver said. “I remember driving Code 3 eating my Big Mac going down I-10.”
Carver said he’s not certain how all-encompassing any ordinance should be, but that the thought banning use of hand held devices while driving represents a “good start.” He said any such prohibition should apply equally to police and fire personnel and any employee driving a city-owned vehicle.
Resident Harley Pettit said he understands the ordinance is well intended. But he noted driver confusion and enforcement issues would result from a municipal ordinance whereby a Kingman area motorist could use a cell phone to talk or text in the county, but would be in violation of the law the moment their vehicle entered the city limits.
Council member Mark Abram agreed.
“I do believe it would be important to reach out to the county to get their support and/or have them start some progress on this because, to me, the start and stop at the city limits (issue) will be the confusing part,” Abram said.
Mayor Richard Anderson argued public safety is more important than regulatory uniformity.
“I don’t care if the county hasn’t gotten around to it. That’s something bad on their part,” the Mayor said. “I believe we need to do something to take care of our people.”
City attorney Carl Cooper told Council staff will draft a proposed ordinance for future consideration. He said mutltiple options would be provided, allowing Council members to determine what driving behaviors might be prohibited or restricted.