On November 18, the Bedford City Council passed a new ordinance banning the use of electronic devices while driving. The City of Bedford joins only a handful of Texas cities that have instituted a ban on electronic device use in vehicles. Arlington and Grand Prairie passed similar ordinances.
Electronic device use includes using cell phones in any capacity – texting, phone calls, internet browsing. The only electronic devices that may be used at any time in a moving vehicle are GPS navigation devices (dashboard mount or on-board systems). Cell phone calls may be placed using hands-free devices or in emergency situations.
Bedford is preparing an awareness campaign to alert citizens of the new ordinance and emphasize on the dangers of distracted driving.
According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting and driving takes a driver’s eyes and attention from the road for an average of five seconds. That loss of control and awareness is equal to the behavior of an average driver after consuming four beers.
Texas state laws prohibit drivers with learners permits from handheld cell phone use for the first six months of driving. Drivers under 18 years of age are prohibited from using any wireless communication devices while operating a vehicle. All drivers are prohibited from using handheld electronic devices when driving through a school zone.
As of 2012, 25 Texas cities have banned texting while driving. Two of Texas’ major cities, Dallas and Houston, still do not have local restrictions on distracted driving actions, such as texting and driving. Even though it is not against the law, drivers should refrain from using electronic devices in any capacity, as even hands-free systems can distract a driver’s attention from the road.