Amarillo considering citywide texting ban

Amarillo, TX - Texting behind the wheel in Amarillo may soon be against the law and even if it passes, police say it may not be easy to enforce.

Other cities in Texas already have citywide cell phone and texting bans in place and now, Amarillo could soon be added to that list if the Amarillo Traffic Commission gets its way.

"Distractions that take the drivers attention away from the road is never a good thing," Amarillo Public Works Director Michael Rice said.

Thousands of accidents occur each year across the state and hundreds of those are attributed to drivers using their mobile device.

"Texting and driving is a problem no doubt and anything we can due to reduce texting and reduce wrecks and injuries is something we're all in favor of," Cpl. Jerry Neufeld said.

The Amarillo Traffic Commission is currently in its early stages of getting together a presentation to take before the city commission.

"Right now we're looking at other cities throughout the state of Texas and looking to see what other ordnances may be out there," Rice said.

Austin and El Paso are two cities that have had cell phone and texting bans citywide for two years.

During that time frame, Austin Police had written only 300 citations--a small number for a city with more than 800,000 people.

"It's going to be very difficult to enforce just because you can't see down past the drivers  window to see what they are doing," Neufeld said.

Right now, the only restrictions against cell phone use in Amarillo apply to driver's passing through school zones.

"We have issued 53 citations for that since the start of the school year," he said.

But Cpl. Neufeld says the majority of those citation were for people talking on the phone.

We're told only 2 citations were issued for texting.

However, that doesn't mean the potential new law wouldn't help our city.

"I think just the law or the ordnance in itself would be a big deterrent to most people," Neufeld said.