Amarillo cracks down on texting while driving

Texas is one of only four states without a ban on texting while driving. Instead the individual counties and towns attempt to ban distracted driving by introducing their own legislation. The hope is that by banning the use of handheld devices while driving these towns and counties can reduce the number of distracted driving car accidents in their area.

Over the last few years, there have been numerous attempts to bring in legislation addressing one of the biggest problems nationwide — texting while driving. In 2015 there were 5,364 accidents in Texas caused by distracted driving. Of those 5,364 accidents, 70 were fatal.

Making any kind of law to ban or restrict texting while driving has been met with opposition at the state level. The proposed Senate Bill 31, is the fifth attempt to bring a ban on texting and driving into life. This resistance has resulted in a number of cities, counties, towns and municipalities passing their own laws. Amarillo is the latest to make it illegal to text in a vehicle unless it is completely stopped.

Cities like Amarillo are prepared for Bill 31 to pass. Amarillo, for example, has a local ordinance from 2012 already in place, focused on educating people on the dangers of texting while driving. The city wanted to wait for a statewide ban on texting and driving.

Since the state has not banned texting and driving, Amarillo has moved forward and began enforcing the 2012 ordinance. The ordinance reads: “It is an offense for the operator of a motor vehicle upon a public road, street, highway, or alley within the city limits to use a wireless communication device.” There are some exceptions to the rule, which drivers must prove to police to avoid a ticket. Some of the exceptions for using a phone while driving include: emergencies, bluetooth and using the phone as a GPS.

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