Wednesday, January 26, 2011
McAllen follows San Antonio's lead: Bans texting while driving
From the McAllen Monitor
McALLEN — City leaders have banned texting while driving, unanimously passing the ordinance after little discussion. The new law forbids the sending or reading of text messages while driving, and also outlaws browsing the web from behind the wheel. Talking on the phone is still legal.
“I’m concerned about the 8,000 accidents we have every year in our city,” said City Commissioner Jim Darling, who introduced the proposal in December, before it was tabled for further review and input.
All commissioners present voted for the ordinance at their meeting Monday evening. Mayor Richard Cortez said he would have preferred to wait for the state Legislature to take action — at least 10 bills on the topic have been filed during the current session, according to city research — but would follow the commission’s wishes.
Police Chief Victor Rodriguez backed the ordinance, which officers will enforce with a traffic citation when necessary. The maximum fine for most municipal court traffic violations is $200.
“It allows us to seize the message, instead of leaving it out there that, ‘It’s not illegal, so it must be OK,’” Rodriguez said. He met with MCN 12, the city’s cable network, on Tuesday to discuss public service announcements.
It’s not clear how officers would differentiate between people dialing a cell phone, which remains legal, and people sending a text message. Rodriguez said phone records could be subpoenaed to settle the matter in court.