Arlington joins Austin among Texas cities with bans on texting while driving
Statewide bans are not the only way to go after texting while driving. Municipalities also have the ability to address the problem on the local level through ordinances restricting cell phone or texting behind the wheel.
Seeking to prevent Texas car accidents, the Arlington City recently voted to enact an ordinance prohibiting the use of cell phones for all uses other than phone calls. Violating is a Class C misdemeanor that will be punishable by a $200 fine.
Prohibited activities include not only texting, but also tweeting or using other mobile applications while driving.
Austin led the way among Texas municipalities on restricting texting behind the wheel. The citywide ban in Austin took effect on January 1, 2010. Like the Arlington ban, the Austin ordinance includes other activities besides texting. It also prohibits tweeting, e-mailing and Web searches by drivers of motor vehicles.
In Arlington, the vote on a texting driving ban was close. Five council members voted for the ban and four were opposed.
Those who were opposed to the Arlington ordinance cited potential enforcement problems. For example, someone looking down might be scrolling through contacts on a phone – which is legal. Police officers will need some training to distinguish those situations from those in which someone is actually texting or e-mailing.
Police officers will still need probable cause of the occurrence of a violation before they can stop someone. Arlington will also embark on a public education initiative to inform motorists of the ban.
Source: “Arlington council votes to bar texting while driving,” Star-Telegram, 9-13-11