The Boston City Council unanimously approved a measure today that would ban texting while driving, potentially making the city the first in the state to prohibit the dangerous practice.
The home-rule petition, which has the support of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, must be approved by the Legislature. City councilors said they hoped their vote would lead to a statewide ban.
"We've taken a real bold step today,'' said the sponsor of the measure, Councilor John M. Tobin Jr., who called himself "a reformed texter while driving.''
Officials from AAA Southern New England have said texting while driving is particularly dangerous for young drivers. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people 16-20 years of age, and an estimated two-thirds of people 18-24 text while driving, the group says.
Tobin has cited figures saying a person who texts or types a message while driving is 23 percent more likely to have an accident than someone who is slightly intoxicated.
The Boston measure would probably include a "primary enforcement" stipulation, allowing police to stop anyone who texts while driving without any additional cause.
City officials are considering what penalties to attach to the measure and are looking at cities such as Toledo, Ohio, which has a ban and penalties ranging from a $150 fine for a first offense to up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine for a third.
In June, Menino announced a policy that banned city employees from typing text messages while operating city-owned vehicles.
Nineteen states, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, have bans on text messaging, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
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