ATLANTA – The City of Atlanta’s city council approved an ordinance that prohibits City employees from using a cell phone while driving. The ban not only applies to employees when driving City-owned vehicles but also extends to the use of personal vehicles for City business. The council approved this ordinance at its August 20 meeting, according to City documents.

The ordinance also requires City employees to provide the phone number of their cell phone to their supervisor, including the numbers of City-issued devices and personal devices. The penalty for violating this policy is dismissal.

City employees exempt from the ban include members of the Command Staff of the Atlanta Police Department and all Atlanta Police sworn officers only in the event of a failure of a vehicle’s police radio system.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society reports that more than 2,600 deaths, and 330,000 injuries, are caused by cell phone distractions each year in the U.S., according to City documents. The City also noted that a University of Utah study found that using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.08, and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to get into an accident than those who do not. The city council cited this study as a reason for implementing the ban.

By Greg Basich