BLACK JACK, Mo. (KMOX) – Better put down the phone if you find yourself driving through Black Jack, Missouri.
The town in north St. Louis County has approved a ban on the use of “hand-held electronic wireless communications devices,” and once approved by the city attorney it will be signed into law by Black Jack Mayor Norman McCourt.
Black Jack joins other local communities that have banned hand-held devices for drivers in an effort to cut down on distracted driving.
“Your attention span, you know, if you’re trying to answer a message or trying to look down to see you texted you, you take your eyes off the road,” explained McCourt. “It may take two or three seconds, but going sixty miles an hour, in two or three seconds you can close a lot of distance real quick.”
What McCourt doesn’t want to hear is that this is a quick and easy way to pad the city’s coffers.
He says it’s purely for safety reasons.
“In north county, everybody thinks that cities try to grab money,” he said. “Well, we are not. We’ve never done it, and we don’t intend to do it. Not while I’m sitting in this chair.”
He says the city garnered four percent of its overall revenue from traffic convictions last year, and hasn’t surpassed six-percent in the past decade.
McCourt points out that’s well below the St. Louis County imposed cap of 12.5 percent.
“Our philosophy is we try to make enough money to handle the courts,” he said. “That’s it.”
After passage by the city council, the ordinance will go to the city attorney for review, and then back before Mayor McCourt to sign into law.
Items included in the ban are: hand-held cell phones, palm pilots, Blackberries, iPads or other electronic devices used to communicate verbally or by text or electronic message.
It will not ban devices that are permanently embedded into the architecture and design of the motor vehicle.
Fines will range from $1 to $500 at the judge’s discretion, although Mayor McCourt allowed that most fines will likely be “on the low end”.
He added it’s likely that officers will only issue warnings to violators during a six month grace period before fines kick in.
(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)