City of Austin may explore hands free ordinance - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

City of Austin may explore hands free ordinance

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The City of Austin may soon go hands free. That means no use of your cell phone while driving.

We are glued to our cell phones and for some, that doesn't stop once they're behind the wheel.

"Well, it definitely is a distraction whenever you're driving and you get the alert, so you automatically take a peak," said Austin driver Emily Gudeman.

"I used to be really bad about it," said Austin driver Carlos Samudio.

In March, the Austin city council passed a resolution at the request of the public safety commission to look into distracted driving.

A study group was formed and now possible recommendations are beginning to emerge.

"One of the items that is getting the most attention right now is suggesting a hands free ordinance," said APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley. "Hands free is just that. At no time will you have the device in your hand while you are in operation of a motor vehicle."

The current city ordinance regarding texting and driving states a driver may not use a wireless communication device to view, send or compose an electronic message or engage other application software while operating a motor vehicle.

APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley says that ordinance is difficult for officers to enforce.

"While it is illegal to have the phone in your hand and text, it is legal to have the phone in your hand and dial a phone number so for the officer that's passing in traffic or that observes an individual in traffic with the phone in their hand, it's not readily apparent whether they're texting or dialing a number," said Manley.

Manley says cases are being dismissed because of the ambiguity and the ticket count is low.

California, New York and Delaware are hands free. Here in Texas, Amarillo, Corpus Christi and El Paso ban cell phone use.

The study group is looking to those cities to see how the ordinances are worded.

Manley says drivers in emergency situations would be exempt.

Local drivers we spoke with say they support it.

"I think it's a really good idea," said Samudio. "I think it will save some lives and prevent a lot of accidents from happening on the road."

"I think the hands free option is a really good one and there's technology out there today you can have a hands free experience in a car," said Gudeman. "People should be doing that and quite honestly, there's nothing that can't wait, right?"

Final recommendations are due August first.

The study group wants your input! Take this survey:

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