ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Arlington has become the first North Texas city to ban texting while driving. The city council passed the new ordinance on a 5-to-3 vote Tuesday night.
Drivers can expect police to start enforcing the ban sometime around Thanksgiving.
“During the first 30 days or so we will be educating the general public about this ordinance and sometime before the holidays we will start enforcing,” explained Officer John Brown, an accident investigator for the Arlington Police Department.
Under the new ordinance, drivers can still use a cell phone to call while driving, just not to text, email or game.
Violators can get fined $200.
“We are out here trying to protect the general driving public in the City of Arlington. We’re trying to reduce accidents. We’re trying to reduce fatalities,” Officer Brown said. “Texting and driving does cause accidents, and texting and driving can cause fatalities.”
But officers admit that catching rule breakers, and proving they were texting, won’t be easy.
“Officers will observe a traffic violation. If they observe someone and it appears they are texting that person will be stopped,” Brown said. “We’re not going to just walk up and demand to see their phone. We will talk to that person as we would on any other traffic stop, and do the investigation.”
Some drivers agree police will have their jobs cut out for them. “That’s going to be the hard part, when you’ve got people constantly looking at their phone it’s easy, but it’s going to be hard to catch,” said driver Anthony Arnold.
In the age of smart phones and having the internet at your fingertips, texting while driving has become somewhat commonplace. “If it’s important [the text message] I’ll do it,” said Arnold, “but I won’t just do it to do it.”
Despite the possible citations and fines, drivers in Arlington, who spoke with CBS 11 News, agreed the ban would make Arlington roads safer.
“On the road you shouldn’t be doing it,” said driver Michael Mitchell, “a lot of people die from that.”
“It’s more of a safety issue than anything,” said Arlington driver Katrina Williams. “A lot of people have caused wrecks for that stuff.”
Many people asked if texting is allowed while a driver is stopped at a red light. Arlington police ‘no’, because the driver is still in control of a motor vehicle.