Wingate: Hang It Up

Thomas MacMillan PhotoIf you’re driving, don’t text. And if you’re texting, don’t drive.

That was the message issued (not texted) from City Hall as the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to name New Haven a “Don’t Text and Drive City.”

The measure was put forward Monday night by Aldermen Al Paolillo and Brian Wingate. Wingate, the chair of the Public Safety Committee, said the idea grew out of a conversation with AT&T, which had contacted him in September to talk about creating a day for not texting while driving. AT&T has launched a similar campaign; you may have noticed stickers like the one pictured all over town.

“I’m challenging the whole city of New Haven not to text and drive,” Wingate said. He said he’s been guilty of it in the past, but is trying not to do it.

He said he hopes the aldermanic decision is the first part of a public awareness campaign about the dangers of texting and driving.

In their official resolution, Wingate and Paolillo cite a statistic that texting while driving makes people 23 times more likely to get into an accident.

The resolution states that aldermen pledge not to text and drive and encourage others to do the same.

“Hopefully we can shine more light on this,” Wingate said.

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posted by: HhE on October 18, 2012  8:51am

A no text and drive DAY?  Good to do something, but this strikes me as putting a band aid on arterial bleeding. 

As a point of pride, I do not know how to text, and my cell does not receive texts.  When I get a call, I pull over before answering or pass the phone to a passenger to answer.

posted by: anonymous on October 18, 2012  9:13am

This is a good idea, but like all of the other Aldermanic “Leadership” proposals over the past year, it is another PR stunt with no teeth and no impact. We need stricter penalties.  There should be a total and more comprehensive ban on employee use of cell phones of all kinds, and “hands free” set use should be banned, as it is in some cities. The City should work to extend a ban to all of our major employers and contractors.  Read this If the Aldermen don’t want to work on this, and just want more PR campaigns, then they are condoning the deaths and severe injuries of many residents per year.

posted by: davecoon on October 18, 2012  10:31am

Start with the police department. 
Want to get run over by a police officer texting and driving?  Step off the curb at the Lincoln Street crossing or the Temple and Wall crossing.

posted by: William Kurtz on October 18, 2012  11:11am

“He said he’s been guilty of it in the past, but is trying not to do it.” (emphasis added)

I sincerely hope he’s doing more than “trying”. It’s not like trying to quit smoking, or trying to take a couple of minutes off your 5k time.

But good for Mr. Wingate and Mr. Paolillo for starting conversation. I hope it goes beyond that. As has already been said, there should be a strict penalties and a zero-tolerance policy on cell phone use while driving by all municipal employees, including emergency services personnel who are currently, and inexplicably, exempt from the law.

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on October 18, 2012  11:52am

Are you kidding me??  I agree with Hhe. 
At any stoplight at around 5pm, anywhere in the city and you will see more people on their phones than driving. I’ve seen drivers texting while leaning on the steering wheel. If the Police occasionally enforced these laws that are ALREADY ON THE BOOKS then maybe, just maybe, people would think about it first. I usually ignore my phone while driving, but if I must answer I pull over to text or talk.

Maybe the Alderman should do what a town in New Jersey did and pass an ordinance that bans texting while walking to prevent pedestrians from being hit. Its a $100 plus fine and they issue dozens of tickets everyday-imagine that ?

BTW davecoon - as much as I agree with you they are allowed by law to use phones while driving- you would think setting a good example is part of the PD’s job- well maybe not in New Haven

posted by: anonymous on October 18, 2012  12:22pm

Long Time, visit the SCSU campus on a weekday.

As students coming in from Woodbridge and Fairfield County are driving to school in their expensive single occupancy vehicles, more than half of them are doing their homework on their iPhones and iPads and completely ignoring traffic.

Maybe that’s a sign that we need to raise tuition and expand scholarships and tutoring opportunities for young people living in the surrounding neighborhoods, who would be able to walk to school there if they could afford it.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 18, 2012  7:54pm

How about a day when the BOA get’s use Term Limits and Proportional Representation.

posted by: Kevin on October 22, 2012  1:59pm


with regard to your first post, I agree it makes sense for the city to ban its employees from using cell phones while driving, but that is far as the city can go. Municipalities are “creatures of the state” and can only do those things the legislature allows them to do. The legislature has allowed adults to use hands free cell phones while driving and the city cannot ban private sector employees from using them.

I am aware of the research that has found that hands-free cell phone use is no safer than hand-held cell phones, but the city cannot exceed its statutory authority.