Mayor looks amend state traffic laws tonight

By Corene Brisendine
Print this article Share this article

Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Each year the Manhattan City Commission reviews and adopts the “Standard Traffic Ordinance for Kansas Cities” that regulates state traffic laws. Each city in Kansas may adopt these standards as written or modify them as they see fit, said Mayor Bob Strawn.
This year, the mayor initiated a modification to prohibit the use of any wireless communication device while driving, including “hands-free” devices. It does allow people to use their cell phones to make emergency calls and emergency personnel to make cell phone calls while driving.
Article 14, Section 103.1. (New section). This section was added for the Commission’s consideration upon the Mayor’s request. The section makes it unlawful for any driver of a motor vehicle to operator use a wireless communication device while driving a motor vehicle.
The proposed addition contains a definition of “wireless communication device” that is identical to the state law to make RCPD’s enforcement of both laws consistent. Also, like the state law, the STO section does not permit “hands-free” use, but it allows use by a driver to call law enforcement or to summon emergency personnel.
The law does not apply to the use of such devices by law enforcement and emergency personnel, when used in the course of their duties.
“We are going to move to ‘preventative law’ not ‘after the fact law,’” Strawn said. “One of the prime responsibilities of the government is to maintain the safety of the citizens, locally.”
Strawn said he wished the city would have moved before an accident that occurred in May involving a 19-year-old woman who died in a car accident on Kansas Highway 18, while driving and texting on her cell phone.
Other changes to the laws include a person involved in a noninjury accident is allowed to move the vehicle off the roadway as to not impede the flow of traffic; a police officer attempting to stop a vehicle on a bicycle or in another vehicle must be “appropriately marked” to be able to charge a motorist with attempting to flee and elude; citizens may operate golf carts and “work-site utility vehicles” on city streets marked with speed limits of 30 mph or less; and the fines and jail time will change for people violating restrictions on their driver’s license use.
On the consent agenda, the city will vote to implement a new city pool pass system and set rates on the Jon and Ruth Ann Wefald Pavilion located at City Park. The agenda also includes voting on the planned intersection improvements at U.S. Highway 24 and McCall Road.
The city commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 tonight in the city commission meeting room in City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. The meeting will also be televised on Cable Channel 3. All citizens are encouraged to attend.