I was elated to hear that Austin is soon to be a hands free city. Texas cities may finally be added to the hands-free list. Although some cities in Texas already ban texting while driving, there is no hands-free state law in Texas (except in active school zones and those listed below). Austin city council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance prohibiting the use of portable electronic devices while driving or biking (same road, same rules). This will go into effect January 1, 2015. The current city ordinance in Austin only bans texting while driving.

The new ordinance applies to cell phones, MP3 players, electronic games, messaging devices and any other hand-held electronic device. Using those gadgets while driving would be illegal. Unfortunately, the council added an exception that allows drivers to use the devices when stopped at a light or stop sign or if you are sitting in standstill traffic. So it appears that we will still be ‘exercising’ our horns on a regular basis. Of course, this excludes calling 911 to report an emergency or get emergency help, two-way radios, and GPS devices that are part of the car.

In the past, bills have been passed through the house in Texas regarding texting, as well as hands free issues. Only to be vetoed by the governor. As we are in the process of electing a new governor, the positions of our two candidates differ greatly. While Greg Abbott is opposed to putting a statewide ban on texting and cell phone use while driving, Wendy Davis actually co-wrote one of the bills in 2011 that would have banned texting while driving in Texas.

Currently, the only state laws in Texas regarding cell phone use while driving are as follows:
• If you have had a learner’s permit for 6 months or less.
• If you are under 18 years old.
• If you operate a school bus when children are present.
• If you are in a school crossing zone.

Depending on your city or county, there may be further rules on cell phone use while driving. Contact your local law enforcement for more information on laws on cell phone usage while driving and related fines.

Thank God we’re evolving!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Hands-Free State Law In Texas – Comedy Defensive Driving