“We had one of our police officers almost run over up there because of a woman using her cell phone,” Mayor Chris Hart said before reading aloud the ordinance unanimously passed during Thursday’s meeting of the Carbon Hill City Council.
Starting on Jan. 4, the first day students will return to school following the Christmas break, drivers in the city’s school zone will not be allowed to use their handheld mobile phones from 7-9 a.m. or from 2-4 p.m. on Monday through Friday during normal school hours.
Those who violate the ordinance known as the Driving While Talking Law will be subject to a fine not to exceed $50.
The new law comes on the heels of Tuesday’s recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board that all states ban cellphone use behind the wheel.
Carbon Hill Police Chief Heath Allred said he believes Alabama lawmakers will soon comply with this recommendation.
“It’s probably going to be banned to talk (on a cell phone) while driving throughout the state,” Allred said. “The lion’s share of the states in the country have gone to that already.”
Allred said it was Carbon Hill Assistant Police Chief Ron Colburn who was nearly hit while directing traffic at a three-way stop on Nauvoo Road prior to the start of school.
Allred added that cell phone use by inexperienced drivers is especially risky.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, Hart addressed concerns about the city’s alcohol fund. He said each month the city receives $3,000 to $4,000 in tax revenues.
“Lke I said before we ever voted to go wet: It’s not going to make us and it’s not going to break us,” Hart said. He added that the city previously received $10,000 to $12,000 each month in sales tax from the sale of alcohol made possible by a Dec. 8, 2009, city referendum on legalizing the sale of alcohol within Carbon Hill City limits.
Hart said the decrease in revenue was due in part to a number of surrounding communities deciding to go wet in recent years.
“It hurt us bad when (Guin) went wet,” Hart said.
In other action during Thursday’s meeting:
•The Council voted to buy three long-sleeve shirts for police officer Matt Dozier;
•Councilors gave approval to pay expenses for city magistrate Kim Sides to attend a $35 magistrate maintenance class in Montgomery; and
•Hart announced that the city still has for sale $25 engraved pavers that will be placed adjacent to the statue of a coal miner the city has planned.