A friendly reminder to keep you safe from harm (and trouble): Texas’ new law against texting and driving takes effect today. Law enforcement warns they’ll be on the lookout, watching for drivers with eyes down or cars swerving.
Looking at your phone while stopped at a light is not a violation since you’re not operating a moving vehicle, and the law allows drivers to dial numbers to make a call, punch in a favorite song or use a phone for GPS. You may have to sort that out, though, with the observing officer who suspects a text and pulls you over. The law refers to “reading, writing or sending an electronic message,” meaning, one would assume, that emails, Facebook posts and other such messages are also no-nos.
The penalty for texting and driving is $99 for the first offense, and those with a previous conviction will pay $200.
All use of cell phones in a school zone is prohibited.
In 2014, 3,179 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers, and an additional 431,000 were injured. In 2016, there were 109,658 traffic crashes in Texas involving distracted driving, leading to more than 3,000 serious injuries and more than 400 fatalities.