The first signs are in place, and soon enforcement of Denton’s texting while driving ban will begin.
On Thursday city streets crews posted the first 10 road signs warning drivers of the new ordinance and the potential penalty if caught. The white signs read: “PROHIBITED: Texting or electronic messaging while driving, by city ordinance, up to $200 fine.”
So far the signs have only gone up on local roads, mostly at major entrances to the city like the State School/Mayhill exit off Interstate 35E and McKinney Street before the Denton County Courthouse.
The city is coordinating with the Texas Department of Transportation to also place larger versions of the signs along state highways like University Avenue and Loop 288.
By the end of January, City Communications Director Lindsey Baker said all of the local signs should be in place and efforts to get the TxDOT signs up won’t be far behind; a total of 51 signs.
Then begins enforcement.
Denton Police said they will start a 30-day grace period once the last local sign goes up at the end of the month. From there, they will begin pulling people over for distracted driving but won’t start ticketing until the 30 days are up, likely in early March. A violation then will run up to $200.
Baker said the city is also launching online and city-wide education efforts to make sure everyone is aware of the new law and what all it covers, as it does go beyond just texting.
"Basically anything if you're looking down. If you have to look down at your phone, GPS navigation, watching YouTube, doing email, texting, any of that will absolutely be banned,” said Baker adding that dialing a phone number will be the only activity allowed.
The ordinance was passed unanimously by the City Council back in May, but design issues caused the signs to be delayed until this month as the city worked to get them in-line with TxDOT standards and the designs used by other communities.
The only exception to the rule in Denton will be Interstate 35, which was left out of the ordinance for uniformity with the rest of the state and to keep from ticketing out-of-town drivers who are unaware of the ordinance and are just passing through.