By Michael Slother - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - School began Monday, and even if you didn't go back to class, the start of this school year will affect you when behind the wheel. The new ban on cell phone use in school zones affects everybody.
After months of being inactive, the flashing lights in school zones are now in full operation. This year they're not just reminding you to hit the brakes, but the ignore button on your cell phone too. Failure to do so could result in a $200 fine.
"We made several stops this morning and a few this afternoon of people just forgetting that's in place and not being able to use a cell phone device," said Wolfforth police officer Rob McFarland.
His department assisted the Frenship district in getting the word out. "There really is no grace period for this particular law," Frenship ISD Police Chief Jerry Arranaga continued. "It's just one of those situations where people need to be aware that we are going to be active on this we need folks to be cooperative."
Monday, most of the officers issued warnings. They had a strong presence in the school zones to make it clear that the law will be enforced. From this point forward, don't expect a verbal warning. "What we seek to do is just remind our community that this law is in effect and you are subject to a citation if you violate the law," said Lubbock School District's Police Chief Mark Hinshaw.
Nobody wants a citation, but officers are making sure the kids safety comes first. "It's of paramount importance to us and the safety of our students, particularly those who are walking or riding bikes to school," Hinshaw said.
For those drivers who think they'll remain un-noticed while using their phones, guess again. "Sometimes you have a problem with tinted windows but you can usually tell when someone is on the phone, their driving is a little erratic and they stop and break often," Arranaga said.
No matter which district or department, the message remains the same. "We would ask anybody driving in the morning or the afternoon to focus all your attention on the wheel and on the road and with the cell phone either use a hand free option or wait till you get out of the school zone," said Hinshaw.
Authorities stressed that it was a pretty normal first day back. While some verbal warnings were issued, that won't be the case in the future. They encourage all drivers to keep your eyes on the road and not your phone.
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