As a follow up to our post earlier this week about Texas’s crackdown on distracted driving, we’d like to take a moment to look at an accident prevention effort on an even more local level in the city of El Paso.
In 2010, the city council adopted an ordinance banning the use of cell phones – for texting or talking – behind the wheel. Under the ordinance, drivers are able to continue making calls using hands-free devices. They also can use a handheld cell phone while driving in case of an emergency, such as reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency or crime.
In the first 20 months that the ordinance was in effect, the El Paso Police Department issued more than 15,000 citations for texting and talking while driving. The citation carries a $114. But as one official noted, the price of texting while driving isn’t just about the fine. The true price is the risk of a fatal car accident.
Despite the fine, people are still texting while driving. In an effort to create awareness, the city’s courts are proposing a No Talking-No Texting Campaign that would allow first time offenders to have their cases dismissed if they put a special bumper sticker on their cars. Under the program, drivers cited for distracted driving for the first time would have the option of paying the fine, or putting a sticker on their car and serving a probationary period. The sticker features a large round, red circle with a line through a cell phone with the words “No Talking, No Texting.”
What do you think of El Paso’s awareness campaign? Will it help spread awareness to distracted driving accidents? What would you do? Would you pay the fine or put the sticker on your car?
Source: El Paso Times, “Distracted driving? Pay fine or put sticker on car,” 4/4/12.