Senate bill could ban hand-held devices while driving

Local News

A bill has been introduced in the State Senate to ban the use of cell phones while driving; however, city officials in Wichita Falls passed a similar law about two years ago. 

In Wichita Falls and under this bill you could only use a device hands-free techonology. People in Wichita Falls are still getting used to that change and it has been in effect  for two years.

The reason for these new laws is simply make the road ways safer.

Since the law was implemented in Wichita Falls the number of citations for using a cell phone while driving has gone down.

“People are actually becoming more aware of that particular ordinance and that state law they are trying to abide by that, but on top of that they are seeing a lot more accidents on the highway,” Municipal Court Administrator Stan Horton said.  “A great deal of them are related to cell phones, texting and driving.”

However, officers said they are still seeing a lot of drivers using their phones.

“From January 1 to today’s date there were 31 unauthorized use of cell phone citations written by the PD,” Horton said. “There were six of those written in school zones, which is probably one of the worst things cause you’ve got children crossing the street and trying to get back and forth to class. So, those six are pretty bad and that’s a high number.”

The police department hears from drivers about others using their cell phones a lot.

“We do get complaints,” Wichita Falls Police Department Sgt. Harold McClure said. “It’s not uncommon for a driver or somebody else on the road to see somebody committing an infraction and call into the police department and say ‘Hey, I just saw and give a description of the vehicle. The driver going this direction on where ever and this is what they were doing.’ It’s not uncommon for those around to call the police, and say ‘I saw them doing this.'”

Even with the law in place, people still are on their phones, but it’s all about reducing distractions for drivers.

“People do a lot of things they shouldn’t do and that’s the reason we are here,” McClure said. “It’s more of a reminder. Let’s focus on the jobs at hand, which is driving that vehicle. Anything that can cause the driver that can cause the driver to be distracted from the task at hand, which is driving, is a concern. As long as those distractions are kept down then it make the road safer.”

If this bill becomes a law, roads across Texas will hopefully have less distracted drivers.

The bill has just been introduced and there is no time table for when it may go to a vote, but if it does pass, it will go into effect on Sept. 1.

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