With Spring comes nicer weather and more opportunities for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
The Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind all drivers and pedestrians to share the road.
The following are a few “rules of the road” based on Texas Transportation Code statutes.
- Bicyclists have the rights and duties of other vehicle operators:(551.101)
Yes, this means you have to stop at stop signs and red lights, but cars are required to yield right-of-way to a bicycle when appropriate, just as to any other vehicle.
- Ride near the curb and go in the same direction as other traffic: (551.103)
Near the curb is subjective (we recommend leaving a cushion of about three feet) but the law gives a cyclist the right to take the lane when necessary for safety.
- At least one hand on the handlebars (two are safer): (551.102c)
One when signaling but two when turning works well.
- Use hand and arm signals: (545.107)
Point the way you are going, let the other operators know what you want to do.
- One rider per saddle: (551.102a)
Don’t let your friends share your bike while riding unless you’re both on a tandem.
- You may ride two abreast as long as you don’t impede traffic: (551.103c)
Racing and taking the lane are special cases.
- Must have a white light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the rear (for riding at night): (551.104b)
The light is primarily so people can see you coming from the side, where their headlights do not shine on your reflectors. The law, effective as of Sept. 2001, states that a red light can replace a red reflector.
- Brakes capable of making the braked wheel skid: (551.104a)
Don’t test that front brake to see if the wheel will skid while riding, especially downhill.
- A pedestrian may not walk along and on a roadway if an adjacent sidewalk is provided and is accessible to the pedestrian: (552.006)
If a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall if possible walk on the left side of the roadway; or the shoulder of the highway facing oncoming traffic.
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. Continue reading
On 03-13-17, at approx 5:15pm, WFPD officers were dispatched to the 1500 blk of Singleton to back a Game Warden on a traffic stop. The Game Warden had stopped the vehicle for driving erratically and identified the driver as 25 year old Hazel Walden. Following an investigation, the Game Warden arrested Walden and put her in the front seat of his truck for transport. Walden became combative and began smashing her head into the side window. WFPD officers on scene offered to transport Walden since they had a unit designed for prisoner transport. After being moved to the police car, Walden continued to be belligerent by banging her head on the side window and center partition glass. Officers secured the seat belt on Walden and began driving her to the jail. During the transport, Walden again became combative and began kicking the center partition and screaming. The transporting officer pulled over and requested an officer with leg restraints. Other officers arrived to assist and removed Walden from the back seat. She continued to actively resist and ignore commands. During the struggle, Walden bit a uniformed WFPD officer on his arm. Leg restraints were deployed and Walden was transported to jail where she continued to resist and had to be restrained by jail staff. Walden was booked in on the following charges:
- Assault on a Public Servant (WFPD)
- Resisting Arrest (Tx Parks & Wildlife)
- Driving While License Invalid (Tx Parks & Wildlife)
- Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Under 15 (Tx Parks & Wildlife)
The largest portion of traffic safety funding from TxDOT is used for the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) projects, which pay for overtime activities by local law enforcement to reduce the incidence of speeding, driving while intoxicated, failure to use occupant restraint systems, and intersection traffic control violations. Organizations eligible for STEP funds include the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS), sheriff’s offices, constable’s offices and community police departments.
The Wichita Falls Police Department has finalized the 1st Quarter FY 2017 (October-December) TxDOT Comprehensive STEP Grant Stats:
Adult Seatbelt Citations – 113
Child Safety Seats – 2
Intersection Violations – 228
Speeding – 493
Other Violations – 165
Arrests – 2
Vehicles Impounded – 6
Hours Worked – 375
Miles Driven – 3,371
Rodney Tate – 34
On 01-18-17, at approx 5:40pm, a WFPD officer attempted to stop black Nissan Rogue for a traffic offense in the 3600 Blk of Maplewood. Once positioned behind the offender vehicle, the officer observed the driver, later identified as 34 year old Rodney Tate, looking at him through his rear view and driver’s side mirrors. Once the traffic light at Maplewood/Lawrence turned green and just before the officer activated his vehicle’s overhead emergency lights, Tate threw his hands up in the vehicle while looking at the officer through his mirror. With light’s activated, the officer attempted to stop the vehicle but Tate continued to drive south on Lawrence by-passing several safe places to stop. As Tate turned on to Callfield, the officer activated his siren to further signal for Tate to pull over. Tate continued driving on Callfield again by-passing several safe places to stop.
Tate finally stopped in the parking lot of 4114 Callfield, over 1 mile from where the officer initially tried to stop the vehicle. Upon stopping, Tate exited his vehicle and quickly approached the officer’s vehicle. The officer exited his vehicle and told Tate to return to his vehicle. Tate did not comply. Tate kicked off his shoes and clenched his fists and continued to approach the officer in a fighting stance. The officer, after taking several steps back to avoid a confrontation, told Tate to get on the ground but he still refused to comply. Instead, he took another step towards the officer. The officer continued to give verbal commands and when Tate continually refused to comply, the officer deployed his taser and was able to take Tate in to custody without further incident.
Tate was taken to taken to jail and charged with Evading Arrest and Resisting Arrest.
Michael Thomas White
On 01-16-17, at approx 2:10pm, WFPD officers stopped a maroon Chevrolet Impala after it failed to stop at the stop sign at Brook/Speedway. The driver was identified as 37 year old Michael Thomas White of Iowa Park. While officers were speaking to White, they could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Further investigation found White to be in possession numerous different types of pills, some in an envelope and others packaged in small clear plastic baggies. White also had 2 outstanding warrants out for his arrest. As a result of the stop, White was arrested and taken to jail on the following charges:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance PG 3 >=28 grams
- Possession of a Controlled Substance PG 3
- 2 County Warrants
Benjamin Fuentes – 27
Laci Brookshire – 27
On 01-11-17, at approx 2:32pm, WFPD patrol officers located a vehicle displaying stolen tags out of Big Spring, Texas. The stolen tags were confirmed and the vehicle was stopped in the 2200 blk of Talunar. Officers ran the VIN from the windshield and discovered that the vehicle was also stolen, but out of Clay County.
The driver of the vehicle, 27 year old Benjamin Fuentes, was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and transported to jail. He also had a city warrant.
The passenger, 27 year old Laci Brookshire, was found to be in possession of a pair of brass knuckles. She was arrested on the charge of Prohibited Weapons. At the jail during the book-in procedure, jail staff found methamphetamine in her wallet. She was also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance PG1.
With possible snowfall in the forecast the Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind drivers that winter weather can create unpredictable and dangerous driving conditions. Here are a few safe driving tips for winter weather road conditions.
- Slow down. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions.
- Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice.
- Watch carefully for snow removal equipment and stay at least 200 feet behind snow plows.
- Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas as they tend to freeze first.
- If your vehicle starts to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you have regained traction. Then straighten your vehicle.
On 01-02-17, at approx 2:14am, officers observed a motorcycle travelling westbound on Maurine without any working tail lights. When officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop, the driver of the motorcycle started to slow but then looked back at them and accelerated away. After a short chase, the motorcycle came to a stop and the driver was identified as 28 year old Brandon Buras. Investigation revealed that the motorcycle that Buras was operating was stolen. Buras was arrested and booked in to the Wichita County Jail on the following charges:
- Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
- Evading Arrest or Detention with 1 Prior Conviction
Please celebrate the New Year safely and responsibly: The consequences of drunk driving are devastating. If you do drink, please have a designated driver or just don’t drink and drive. Try to avoid being on the road between the hours of 8pm – 2am. Auto accidents due to alcohol consumption are the highest during that time. Take the keys if you have a friend who is too drunk to get behind the wheel. Help your friend with a ride home. Watch out for intoxicated pedestrians or bicyclists.
Be careful with what you’re sharing on social media. If you are hosting a party make sure your guests have a designated driver or a way to take them home from your party.
You’ll hear about it — someone shooting guns into the air. Firing weapons in the air is a violation of the law. Keep your pets inside or away from fireworks and other loud noises. Have a happy and safe New Year!