- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A legislative committee advanced a bill Thursday allowing municipalities to ban the use of cellphones while driving in a school zone or on school property.

The Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee signed off on the measure, which would give municipalities such an option since state law stipulates all traffic laws must be uniform across Alaska.

“I just want to say I am very supportive of this measure because it brings awareness around distracted driving,” Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff told the committee.

Both Graff and Anchorage Assemblyman Ernie Hall said the genesis of the bill came from the efforts of an Anchorage crossing guard, David Wight.

“Cellphones are the biggest distraction in a school zone,” Wight testified.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, allows municipalities to pass ordinances covering the use of cellphones at school crossings and on school property, but it does not require them to do so.

Committee Chairman Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, is also sponsoring the bill.

“I drop my daughter off for school and see people talking on their cellphones all the time,” Micciche said.

Another sponsor is Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau.

The bill is now destined for a hearing before another committee; details have yet to be announced.

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