State Focuses on Distracted Driving

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As a parent, it can be difficult to convince children that each family has its own set of rules. My daughter often wants to take toys to Sunday school. While we allowed this at one time, my husband and I later decided this wasn’t a good idea. Not only was it a challenge to keep up with what she brought to the church, but it was also a distraction to the volunteers and other children.

Just last week my daughter begged to take a stuffed animal to church. After asking several times, she went for the fairness argument. She said “But, Mom! Andy brings toys to church every week.” That’s when I had to explain – yet again – that each family has different rules. It was OK with Andy’s family, but it wasn’t what her dad and I wanted for her. Now, if the church had the rule of no outside toys, that rule would be the deciding factor for all families. Since the church doesn’t have a hard rule on the subject, it’s up to each family.

That can be true in government. Each city has its own laws when it comes to certain issues. In the past, one such issue has been texting and driving. In August of 2012, a texting while driving ban went into effect for the City of Canyon. The ordinance banned texting and other data usage while driving. However, using a phone for calls was permitted, as was texting or data usage while the vehicle was stopped, even at a stop light.

However, a recent statewide law further dictates laws for people who are texting behind the wheel. A law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in July will add to local restrictions that some municipalities, such as the City of Canyon, adopted. Supporters of the bill hope it will make the roads safer. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, one in five crashes involves driver distraction.

In a recent meeting of the City Commissioners, the local ban on texting while driving was eliminated by the City of Canyon. Since the municipal’s ordinance allowed for some phone usage when the car was stopped, it interfered with the state law.

The statewide law is currently in place and targets people who are on their cellphones reading, writing or sending text messages while driving. Law enforcement lookout for drivers whose heads are down and who are swerving. Cellphones can be used for GPS navigation and music, though drivers might still get pulled over if officers suspect them of texting. Officials suggest using hands-free technology, like Bluetooth headsets or dictation functions and apps that type out words spoken aloud. Those who are caught texting and driving will face a fine up to $99 for the first offense and those previously been convicted could face up to $200.

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