COLLEGE STATION, Texas - On September 1, a new statewide law went into effect banning motorists from texting while driving.
Prior to the state-wide texting and driving ban, College Station was one of the few cities in Texas that already had existing hands free ordinances in place.
The hands-free ban in College Station went into effect in November of 2016, and according to researchers with the Texas Transportation Institute, the city has seen a significant decrease in the numbers of distracted drivers since its enactment. .
“After the ordinance went into effect in November, we saw our overall wireless communication device use rate at 6.8%. So, what we saw was a 41.9 % decrease in usage, said TTI Senior Research Scientist Katie Womack.
However, now that state law has gone into effect and the City has decided to repeal their ordinance and adhere to state law, but officials with the College Station Police Department fear this may cause the number of distracted drivers to increase once again.
“Texting and driving is just one little aspect to the bigger issue of distracted driving,” said College Station Chief of Police Scott McCollum.
With the city ordinance, all hand-held phone usage while driving was against local law, but now that the state law has gone into effect it only prohibits texting while driving.
Despite the changes, Chief McCollum says he is still hopeful drivers will exercise restraint when they have the urge to reach for their phone while driving.
“When we implemented the ordinance, we did quite a bit of studying and a quite a bit of education of the public to heighten awareness to the dangers of distracted driving. Hopefully some of that sticks, and will cause people to make personal decisions to put the phone down,” Said McCollum.