North Texas

Absolutely No Phones While Driving in Little Elm

Little Elm's mayor may have described their new rule best Tuesday night: if you're in town, put the phone down (while driving).

The town council voted unanimously this week to enact a new distracted driving ordinance that bans any and all device use while behind the wheel.

Drivers can no longer hold their phone, GPS, or any other device to talk, text, game, interact, or perform any other functions.

Assistant Police Chief Greg Wilkerson said even holding the device in your hand while driving would qualify as a violation.

Use of hands free devices like Bluetooth connections, dash mounts, or headsets is still allowed and encouraged as an alternative to using the device by hand.

Drivers must be off the road and parked before device use is permitted in town; that includes no use at red lights.

The council began crafting an ordinance and taking public input back in December, but Wilkerson said it was decided that enforcement of a simple texting ban would prove ineffective, so they elected to go with the tougher, all-out ban instead.

The ordinance is in effect immediately, but drivers have a grace period where only warnings will be given out until the end of February. Starting March 1st though, getting caught using a handheld device while driving could result in a $250 fine for the first offense and up to $500 by offense number three.

Wilkerson stressed the reasoning behind the ban is purely safety and getting drivers to pay attention while behind the wheel.

So far the reactions from citizens are mixed. Several told us Friday that they supported the ban and questioned why something similar hasn't been enacted on a state level.

Others though, especially on the police department's Facebook page, have spoken out against the ordinance. Some expressed concerns about jobs that often utilize phone use while on the go, and others pointed out displeasure with police still being able to operate devices like their radios and laptops while driving.

Under the new rule, emergency workers can still use a device if necessary, but Wilkerson said he's stressing to the public that they go through extensive training to perform that sort of multitasking as safely as possible.

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