AUSTIN, Texas – One city in Texas is taking extreme measures to try and stop drivers from being distracted by their cell phones.
The Austin Public Safety Commission approved a recommendation on how to toughen up the ‘no texting’ ordinance already on the books.
There’s a sense among many Austin drivers that it is okay to text or talk on a cell phone as long as you’re stopped at a red light.
“Too many people do it. I see cops doing it. I see everybody else doing it,” said Andre Harris.
Texting and driving is already illegal in Austin.
However, the problem has gotten so out of hand that city leaders created a special task force to look at the issue.
“What we have currently is very difficult to enforce,” said Assistant Chief Brian Manley, with the Austin Police Department.
In an effort to help officers enforce the law, the Distracted Driving Task force is recommending a new law that would make it illegal to use a cell phone in a car, whether it is moving or not.
The proposal would also include bicycles.
The only exceptions could be people reporting an emergency and hands-free devices.
“I just think in this day and age, everything goes so fast. It’s like if we’re sitting at a red light, we feel like we should be doing something but you really shouldn’t be. You could rear end the person in front of you. You might take your foot off the brake, you don’t know,” said Kelly Horner.
Commercial vehicles would be allowed to use two-way radios while driving.
“With me and my business, the lawn business, I’ve almost got to talk and drive at the same time,” said Harris.
Drivers would be forced to pull into a parking lot and put the car in park.
“If you are in a parking lot and the vehicle is in park, then it would be allowable to text,” said Manley.
“I know in the northeast it’s illegal to talk on your phone and text, but I knew it was coming,” said Marshall Lowy.
The ordinance passed Monday night but the chairman of the Public Safety Commission believes the measure is overreaching.
“I personally think that that’s a step too far. We need people to buy into the legislation. There’s not going to be enough police officers to do the enforcement,” said Kim Rossmo, Austin Public Safety Commissioner.