Confusion remains over guidelines of new texting and driving law

The new texting and driving law went into effect September 1, right as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on Houston, but there's still some confusion over what this new law really means.

Texas's new texting and driving ban went into effect September 1 - right as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on Houston, but there's still some confusion over what this new law really means.

"Talk. Text. Crash." Those are the three words TxDOT wants burned into our brains.

“Talk or text later, don’t let the phone drive you," said the TxDOT Public Service Announcement.

But these guidelines are no longer just part of a PSA - they’re now part of the law.

“You’ve been behind the vehicles that have been swerving, or slowing down, speeding up, or coming into your lane so I'd consider texting and driving as bad as impaired driving," said Lt. Kevin Duggan with Houston Police Traffic Enforcement Division.

It went into effect September 1, 2017.

Houston Police gave out 36 citations in their first month, but hope drivers now get the message, and that number goes down.

But drivers agree that it’s a problem.

“They’re switching lanes, going into other people’s lanes. They’re actually on their phones in their hands, looking down, not at the road," said driver Kimberly Dalman.

But it may be hard to enforce.

“If you get stopped, people are going to say that they were listening to music, when instead, they were texting and stuff like that," said another driver, Francisco Torres.

Because like Torres says, it’s not illegal to be on your phone following a map or shuffling through your playlist.

“The texting, sending, receiving, composing - that’s what they’re trying to get away from," said Lt. Duggan.

And he says that’s something the officers have to witness themselves.

“It is a challenge, but once again, if we physically see somebody texting, or they admit to texting, that is the reason for the stop," he said.

“Stay off, stay off your phone. You’re going to save somebody’s life. You’re going to save your own life," said Dalman. 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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