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Austin Mayor wants drivers to pledge to never text while driving

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Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell says he's open to expanding the city ordinance that bans texting while driving.

Thursday, he joined a group called Mayors United Against Texting While Driving in an effort to raise awareness and save lives.

"Together we can fight texting and driving," Leffingwell said Thursday outside city hall. He wants drivers to of all ages to make a pledge to never text while driving. He wants Austinites to remember three simple words; it can wait.

Leffingwell joined public safety leaders and AT&T to kick off a social media campaign to make streets safer.

According to the National Safety Council texting while driving is involved in more than 100,000 crashes a year. APD brought a car damaged in a crash as a reminder of what can happen when drivers take their eyes off the road.

"The crashes caused by texting and driving are 100 percent avoidable," APD Assistant Chief Jessica Robledo explained.

"As the fire department we are the ones that come to the scenes and try to pick up the pieces after the crash or tragedy," said AFD Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr as she vowed to take the pledge.

Public Safety leaders and the city want to change the behavior of drivers on the roads.

Drivers in Austin break the law each time they send a text message behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The ordinance went into effect in January of 2010. Since then, officers have issued 825 texting prohibited while driving citations.

City prosecutors say the ordinance is outdated. With more distractions like E-Readers and iPads, Leffingwell says the ordinance could be expanded.

"I've seen people reading a book while driving but by far texting and driving is the most egregious but I'm certainly open to looking at other kinds of behavior," Leffingwell said.

There is no time frame for any changes, but it's certainly something the city is considering.

If you'd like to take the pledge text icwaustin to 464329. Message and date rates will apply. The campaign wraps up at the end of the month. The number of pledges will be announced during the week of October 1.


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