Texas

Denton City Council bans hands-on use of cellphone while driving

Driving and using a cellphone is the norm for many drivers, police say. There were 7,748 crashes in Tarrant County and 105,783 because of distracted driving in Texas in 2015.
Driving and using a cellphone is the norm for many drivers, police say. There were 7,748 crashes in Tarrant County and 105,783 because of distracted driving in Texas in 2015. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Texting while driving already is illegal in Denton, and soon, motorists will be banned from using handheld devices while driving for almost any reason.

Denton City Council on Tuesday night voted on the ban, joining a growing number of cities with similar bans aimed at reducing distracted driving. Starting June 1, police officers will be able to pull over drivers if they see them holding a device, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.

A violation can result in a fine of up to $500.

Drivers will be able to use hands-free features in their vehicles or set up their phones in hands-free mode, the Denton newspaper reported. The only exceptions include making emergency calls, according to the new ordinance.

Motorists won’t be able to touch their phones while stopped at a red light, but will have to pull over and park legally.

WFAA reported that Denton police wanted the ordinance passed because the texting-and-driving ban was not enough.

In April, a high-speed head-on crash killed two young mothers and their daughters on U.S. 377 in south Denton near Argyle. WFAA reported that the cause of the crash was believed to be distracted driving. During Tuesday’s council meeting, James Schaffer, whose wife and daughter were victims in that crash, spoke in support of the ordinance.

“Your hands need to be free when you are driving,” Schaffer said, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

About 100 Texas cities have some type of restriction on using a device while driving, according to the Star-Telegram archives. In Tarrant County, Arlington, Bedford, Grand Prairie, Hurst, Watauga and White Settlement ban at least some cellphone use behind the wheel.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST

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