Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News
Arlington police have started enforcing an ordinance that bans every use of cellphone behind the wheel other than talking.
Arlington police will enforce a city ordinance that bans texting while driving starting Friday.
The measure was passed back in September and is the first of its kind in North Texas and electronic signs have been flashing a message about the ordinance on Division and Collins streets.
Arlington police said they plan to warn and educate people first, but if it's really obvious or dangerous they'll write a citation.
"We're trying to save lives, makes sure people are educated about the reason why they're getting inside their vehicle, not to only communicate with someone on the phone but to get to their destination safely," said Arlington Police Officer Cornelius Gibson.
Gibson said officers will be looking for people with their heads down, swerving in their lanes or in traffic and drivers failing to react when red lights turn green.
Although police could not say how many accidents in Arlington were caused by texting behind the wheel, about 20 percent of all crashes in 2009 were caused by distracted drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Arlington police hope the threat of a ticket deters texting and driving and reduces the number of accidents.
At Total Driving Experience, instructors already teach a class in texting and driving. They take students through an obstacle course filled with cones and have students drive through it.
“Every time, it never fails that they always are moving around and hitting cones,” said Reggie Hurry, who has taught the class for the last seven years.
McKenzie Noel, a high school senior who lives in Arlington, admitted that she has texted while driving.
But she has had friends get into fender benders and knows the risks. She said she thinks the ordinance will ultimately make her a better driver.
Drivers also cannot email, tweet or do do anything on their cellphones other than talk. Drivers caught texting and driving in Arlington can face a fine of up to $200.