Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.
Austin is leading the state of Texas in the effort to refocus drivers on the task of driving. The hands free initiative aims to increase safety by decreasing distracted driving in Austin. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving and all distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.
The Austin City Council adopted Ordinance No. 20140828-041 amending section 12-1-34 of the City Code to prohibit the use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle. This law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
City of Austin Hands Free Law – Vehicles and Bikes
Unless using a hands-free system such as Bluetooth or headphones, or a permanently affixed GPS system, use of portable devices while moving in a car or on a bike will be a citable offense beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
Hand held cell phone use is permitted in the event of an emergency such calling 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 to report a crime or an accident. Even in an emergency situation, it is best to pull over and come to a complete stop before using or operating any mobile or hand held device.
Electronic Messaging While Driving Ordinance
A driver of a motor vehicle may not use a phone, tablet, or other device to view, send, or compose an electronic message while moving, per existing City of Austin Ordinance No. 20091022-028 and Ordinance No. 20091217-090. This law is commonly known as the texting while driving ban. Drivers may use their device to send messages while at a complete stop.
Distracted Driving Initiative
Using a handheld device and texting while driving are just two activities that can distract drivers and cyclists. While other types are not illegal in Austin, all forms of distracted driving pose a danger to drivers, their passengers, and bystanders. Nationwide, many organizations have come together to encourage drivers to focus solely on driving while operating a vehicle.
Distracted driving includes:
• Using a cell phone for any reason
• Eating and drinking
• Talking to passengers
• Reading, including maps
• Using a navigation system
• Watching a video
• Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 Player
According to Distraction.gov, in 2012 an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
The City of Austin urges you to focus on the road, the rest can wait.