Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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January 31, 2013

Texting while driving a real danger

Legislators and locals scrutinizing texting behind the wheel

(Continued)

"If it's something important, I'll wait until a red light," he said, expressing his support for legislation regulating texting behind the wheel.

"It's already bad enough without it, [texting] just adds to it," he said.

Local law enforcement continues to monitor the use of cell phones by drivers but has not yet enacted any ordinance directly related to the issue, according to Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan.

He said the greatest emphasis relates to "restrictions and prohibitions on cell phone use in school zones," adding he is "closely monitoring our current legislation session [and] following Rep. Craddick's bill with interest."

Craddick's bill is one of seven presented by state lawmakers this year. His proposal would prohibit text messaging using handheld devices while allowing the entry of phone numbers and texting via hands-free device.

The other proposed bills contain similar provisions, including fines of up to $400 for violations within a school zone.

"I think limiting the number of distractions while operating a vehicle is a good thing for everybody," Sullivan said, noting he would be open to proposing a local law should he identify a need.

"As far as localized interest involving an ordinance," he said, "I'm going to be conservative and monitor the progress of the legislature during this session on this issue and as we're closing out the year 2012 statistical instances, I'll take a look at that and see if that's an issue. If we need an ordinance preemptively, I'm not opposed to that."

While drivers have always had something to distract them, Sullivan said this specific issue is relatively new.

"It's only been a few years that the state added that category on accident reports to include driver distraction associated with use of a device or texting while driving," he said, noting the problem is greater in areas with higher population density.

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