Northeast side City Councilman Mike Gallagher is proposing a ban on all use of cell phones for talking and texting while driving, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

  Gallagher says the problem of using cell phones behind the wheel is a 'national epidemic' and he says there have been 1900 accidents in San Antonio since 2010, including six deaths and 28 that resulted in incapacitating injuries, which have been blamed on the use of cell phones while driving.

  It is already illegal to use a cell phone while driving through marked school zones.  Gallagher wants to expand that ban to prohibit use of hand held cell phones for any purpose for driving anywhere in the city.

  He points out that a distracted driving ordinance which was passed in 2010 didn't go far enough.  While it banned texting and sending and receiving e-mails while driving, it allows dialing numbers and talking on the phone while behind the wheel.

  "While the city took a step in the right direction with the distracted driving ordinance, I believe there is more we can do to improve public safety and reduce the distracted driving hazard," Gallagher said.  "That is why I have requested that city staff examine the current ordinance related to the ban on the use of hand held mobile communication devices and add a provision stating that they may only be used in a 'hands free capacity, unless in an emergency situation."

  Gallagher says his proposal would also give police more authority to write tickets for people who are taking on cell phones while driving.

  "Remember, driving is not a right, it is a privilege," Gallagher said.  "We owe it to other drivers on the road and ourselves to operate a vehicle in the safest manner."