On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, Wichita Falls city councilors unanimously approved an ordinance banning the use of cell phones by drivers inside the city limits, unless a hands-free device (including speakerphone) is being used. The purpose of this ordinance is to save lives and to keep the streets of Wichita Falls safe for our citizens.
March 23, 2017
Here are the general requirements of the new ordinance restricting the use of cell phones by drivers:
Sec. 102-67. General Requirements.
(a) An operator of a vehicle may not use a wireless communication device for any purpose while operating a vehicle on any street or highway within the City of Wichita Falls, unless employing a hands-free device.
(b) This section does not apply to:
1. An operator of an authorized emergency vehicle using a wireless communication device while acting in an official capacity;
2. An operator who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission while operating a radio frequency device other than a wireless communication device;
3. An operator using a wireless communication device who is legally parked; or
4. An operator who is using a wireless communication device while the vehicle is on private property.
The new cell phone ban isn’t just for drivers, either. The ordinance uses the term “vehicle” instead of “motor vehicle,” to ensure that bicycles, motorcycles, and any other device that can be used to transport persons or property on a highway is included in the ban.
To read the ordinance in it’s entirety, please click here: http://bit.ly/2mm8Hr3
Wichita Falls joins almost 100 other Texas cities that have banned or restricted the use of cell phones while driving.
The maximum fine for a violation of this ordinance can be up to $500.00 plus court costs.
- In 2016, of the 2,474 accidents investigated by Wichita Falls police in the city, 27 involved people who admitted that cell phones and/or texting were a contributing factor in causing the accidents.
- In 2015, there were 26 cell phone related accidents.
- The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
- Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
- 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
- Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
- Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
- Texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
- Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.
- Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. A crash typically happens within an average of three seconds after a driver is distracted.
- Utilize hands free devices such as bluetooth technology or speaker phone.
- Borrow thumbs from a friend. Or lend yours to a friend. Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
- An app can help you stop texting and driving. Download your favorite and forget about it in the car.
- Turn those notifications off. The less you hear your phone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re driving.
- Out of sight, out of mind. When you’re in the driver’s seat, put your phone where you can’t get it. A place where you won’t even be tempted to look for it. No phone. No texting.