AUSTIN (KXAN) - Starting Friday, it is against the law in Austin for drivers totext and operate a motor vehicle - marking at least one mandatoryNew Year's resolution for those who are addicted to their smartphones.
The ban on texting, Tweeting, e-mailing, and surfing theInternet while driving comes after months of debate at Austin CityHall.
Motorists on New Year's Eve said they know about the law, but anunscientific test on Cesar Chavez Road in Downtown Austin showedmore education may be needed.
In a spot check near Cesar Chavez Street and Lamar Boulevardon Thursday, KXAN counted 10 drivers typing something on their cellphones in a 15-minute period.
"A split second is all that it takes for you to look downand look up, and there's somebody walking in front of you," saidAustin police officer Veneza Aguinaga.
Aguinaga acknowledged that it may be hard to enforce thelaw, but police will give a 30-day grace period to start handingout $500 tickets.
"The only other way for people to learn how dangerous it is,is for it to happen to them," she said.
Austin’s is the first citywide ban in the state. Eighteenstates and the District of Columbia outlawed texting while driving,and a new Texas law already aims to stop drivers from using a cellphone in school zones.
The plan makes some exceptions, allowing you to:
- Text when stopped at a traffic light.
- Use the phone's navigation system if it's mounted in plain sight.
- Text in an emergency.
The new ban clarifies a vote taken in November on the issue andgoes into effect Jan. 1.
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