Denton Bans Texting While Driving

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The City Council voted 7-0 to ban texting and other similar electronic device use on Denton city streets. (Published Wednesday, May 7, 2014)

    The City Council voted 7-0 to ban texting and other similar electronic device use on Denton city streets.

    Under the new rules, drivers will not be allowed to text, surf the internet or use other handheld electronic device operations while operating a vehicle.

    City staff emphasized that the rule includes use of GPS functions on a phone or handheld device. While verbal navigation from a device is fine, any adjustments or input of an address must be done while the car is off the road.

    Talking on a phone while driving is still allowed under the new rules, as is use of hands-free devices.

    The move comes after months of debate on the issue by city officials.

    Last October, the city council actually discussed an all-out ban on all handheld device use, including talking, but Councilman Kevin Roden said they scaled discussions back after citizen feedback came in overwhelmingly against the idea.

    "People have been used to talking on their phone for a decade or more and that was a bit of an over-reach to do that," said Roden. "We decided let's scale it back and just hit the point everyone agrees with and that is it's unsafe to text and drive."

    There was a last ditch effort by a few citizens to push for even tougher rules. One commenter called the texting ban "unenforceable" and said talking on phones while driving needs to be addressed as well.

    Councilman Roden called the ordinance a good first step towards safer roads.

    The new law will go into effect June 5 with a 30-day grace period before ticketing begins. At that point, getting caught texting and driving could result in a $200 fine.

    The council said the interstates in Denton will be exempt from the new rules to avoid confusion for drivers just passing through Denton who may not be familiar with the ordinance.