When school started this year, new safety laws went into effect as well. The Texas legislature enacted new laws regarding the use of cell phones in school zones, aimed at protecting children and preventing automobile accidents. Starting September 1, 2009, it is now illegal to operate your motor vehicle while using your cell phone if you are traveling in a school zone – in San Antonio, or anywhere in Texas – unless you are using a hands-free device (Bluetooth, speakerphone or earpiece, for instance). Specifically included in the ban, is texting while driving through school zones. While, from a safety standpoint, one should never text while driving, this law only affects texting in school zones. Violators of this new safety law can face fines of up to $200.
There are additional restrictions for newly licensed drivers. Operators with learning permits are prohibited from using cell phones for the first 6 months of driving, while drivers under the age of 17 with restricted licenses are forbidden to use mobile, cellular devices while driving.
Every year there are vehicle collisions causing injuries to school children and/or motorists properly operating their vehicles in school zones. Typically, even though cell phone use was not illegal, an investigation into the at fault driver’s cell usage was involved. Now, however, the mandate of law from the Texas legislature places a greater emphasis on reasonable driving practices when the end result could be a serious or fatal injury to a child.