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Hey Austin- Did you know it’s already illegal to text while driving?

Posted by Brian K. Tillman on 12 November 2014


This post is coming to you as a public service message if you should be coming into beautiful Austin for our Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Formula One races, South by Southwest, or perhaps a quaint Texas Longhorns football game. Despite what you may see around you, it is illegal to text while driving in Austin. Like already, for a while. I only mention it because although I recall some distant echo of the texting ordinance being passed, I never took note of when it began or what the penalties would be.Â

Let me give you an analogy that may help. There was a time in Texas when kids didn’t have to be in car seats, and you actually didn’t have to wear your seatbelt. It just hung there like a leftover party streamer, flowing in the natural A/C. For a lot of good reasons, they changed that law, and today you have to wear a seatbelt every time you drive a car, or risk getting pulled over and handed a ticket. I could never really get used to it, which was clouded by my ignorance of when the law actually passed. But to my family’s satisfaction, after giving twelve hours of my life to defensive driving (ahem, that’s six hours, two times), plus some cash, and an unbearable automatic dinger that goes off every time I sit down in the car (or put a bag of groceries in the passenger seat)…. guess who’s wearing a seatbelt? That is law in action, my friend.

Now they won’t get you for texting if you are stopped at a red light or stop sign (or holy cow if you even just STOPPED somewhere and shut the car off entirely). And they aren’t going after you if it’s standstill traffic, which is how you know it was Austin people who were involved in the decision. BUT, don’t be cruising down IH-35 texting when it actually IS  moving, and don’t even think about it anywhere near a school, or your pocket will pay. And if you have some unpaid tickets, or some old surcharges, or maybe even some contraband in the car? Then you are probably taking an unplanned trip downtown and getting your car out of impound tomorrow. So hey- put down the cellphone and use that voice-to-text thing your phone already does that you haven’t figured out. You can learn and save cash at the same time! Just remember, if you were only jabbing at your phone screen to make a call to a contact, or dial a number, then that’s OK, because it’s not texting while driving. And that’s not illegal…yet.

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