Possible New Law Restricting Cell Phone Use for Drivers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/6/03

Possible New Law Restricting Cell Phone Use for Drivers

Almost everyone has them and almost everyone uses them while their behind the wheel. Cell phones will be a topic of discussion during this year's legislative session in Austin. An El Paso representative wants a new law passed that would restrict a driver's use of a cell phone.

"I have a head phone for my cell phone and it's fine to use. You put it on and it just clicks. But if you have to hold a cell phone in your hand all the time, it's very distracting," said one Lubbock motorist.

Just think how long it takes to dial that phone number you're calling. Your attention gets shifted from the road to what's in your hand. In a split second, anything could happen if you're not looking. Something that could get you in a real big mess.

"To be completely safe, whenever you're driving an automobile, your focus should be 100% on your driving," said Captain Richard Foster, Traffic Division Commander.

Cell phones are the way of life and almost impossible to avoid. "You know, let me tell you something. I use one all day long," said another motorist to NewChannel 11.

If this law passes in Austin, you'll have to convert to hands-free devices. Because keeping two hands on the wheel is what an El Paso State Representative and highway safety experts are trying to push.

"I would not talk on my cell phone and drive," said one woman we caught hanging up her cell phone in the car. "Do you think it's a good law?" NewsChannel 11 asked her. "I think it probably would be," she answered.

Captain Foster says everyone is guilty of talking and driving. "I would venture to guess 90% of the officers have cell phones available to them while their operating a vehicle," said Foster.

Even Senator Robert Duncan admits he's guilty. "I got a ticket for talking on the cell phone and running a stop sign. I had to pay that ticket," Duncan said Monday.

Regardless, cell phones won't go away. But there's a chance you'll be told how to talk on a cell phone. And to some, "I guess it sucks," said a motorist.

Senator Duncan says he'll have to review car crash statistics before deciding which side he supports. Although the Texas Department of Transportation estimates cell phone use contributes to 716 crashes in 2000. New York is the only state in America to have a law requiring drivers to use a hands-free cell phone device.

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