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      Amarillo says hands on the steering wheel and off the phones

      Using wireless devices while driving in Amarillo will soon be illegal.

      UPDATE City of Amarillo issues memo on cell phone ban.

      Amarillo City Commissioners approved on Tuesday a citywide ban of using handheld wireless devices while driving.

      The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Jim Simms voting against the ban.

      "I think the ordinance was a little overreached," Simms said. "I am totally opposed to texting and driving any form of cell phones be they handheld, be they Bluetooth, be they whatever wireless remotes; they're just too much a part of our community"

      According to the City, the ordinance states, "To enact a citywide ban on the use of handheld wireless devices by motorists upon public streets; providing for severability; providing for repealer; providing a penalty; providing for continuation of prior law; providing for publication and effective date."

      The ban comes after more than a year of controversial talks between residents, the City Commission and the Traffic Commission. It was in 2011 when the City of Amarillo voted to ban cell phone use in school zones.

      Under the ordinance, hands free calling will be allowed. Anyone who breaks the ordinance will be subject to a penalty.

      "I think it will be hard to enforce it here because its out of sight," Simms said. "I think that we, the City Commission, now that the ordinance has been passed, we have a huge responsibility for education and educating the public as to what the ordinance says."

      Earlier this year, the City of Canyon voted to ban cell phone use while driving, too.

      The ordinance must now go to the City Traffic Engineer. Signs will first have to be installed before the ordinance is enacted.

      Continuing coverage from Pronews 7 on ConnectAmarillo.com.