The statewide ban on texting and driving is one of 673 new Texas laws that go into effect Today.
- The law targets people who are on their cellphones reading, writing or sending a text message while driving.
- Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers whose heads are down and who are swerving. “That’s a huge indicator that they might be texting and driving.”
- If a driver is stopped at a red light, it’s not a violation to be looking at a phone because they’re not “operating a vehicle” in that moment. But Barineau cautions that texting at a red light can often cause a hazard because drivers don’t notice when the light turns green. “If an officer sees that person is moving on but still texting and driving, they’ll pull them over.”
- Cellphones can be used for GPS navigation and music, though drivers might still get pulled over if officers suspect them of texting. “The key here is keeping your head up and keeping your hands on the wheel.” Officers often see people with a knee on the steering wheel as they text with one hand. “If somebody cuts in front of them then they are immediately at a disadvantage to maneuver out of the way.”
- Instead of texting, seek out hands-free technology, like Bluetooth headsets or dictation functions and apps that type out words spoken aloud.
- Using a cellphone to report an emergency, like a car crash, while driving is OK under the law. “Of course we need to get emergency medical personnel there as quickly as possible.”
- Those who are caught texting and driving will face a fine up to $99 for the first offense and those who’ve previously been convicted could face up to $200.