Talk to you later: New law prohibits cell phone use in school zones
With the passing of House Bill 55 during the last legislative session, lawmakers have taken a first step toward prying cell phones out of the hands of Texas motorists - at least in school zones.What do you think? Should it be against the law to use your cell phone while driving through a school zone? Or Should it be against the law to use it at all when you drive?
All across the state, municipalities are expecting the installation of signs that alert drivers of the new legislation that, as of September 1, makes the use of cellular phones illegal in school zones.
The Texas Department of Public Safety summarizes the new law by saying, “[House Bill] 55 makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or a hands-free device is used. Cities or counties wanting to enforce this law must post a sign at the beginning of each school zone to inform drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine. It is a defense to prosecution if the operator was making an emergency call.”
A violation of House Bill 55 can result in a class C misdemeanor citation and a fine up to $200.
Humble Independent School District spokeswoman Karen Collier said House Bill 55 is a welcome additional layer of protection for students who walk to or from school and have to navigate traffic in the morning and afternoon hours when traffic peaks around schools.
“People who talk on cell phones are as likely to get into an accident as someone who’s driving while drunk,” Collier said. “It’s a safety issue for kids. We want to keep them safe and the state obviously felt it needed to make a law about this.”
Collier said the school district’s police force will work with local agencies like the Houston Police Department in Kingwood, Humble Police, and constable’s as well as sheriff’s departments in Atascocita to enforce House Bill 55.
“Be forewarned!” she cautioned. “Get off the cell phone while in school zones.”