Citywide texting ban gaining momentum

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - It's one of the biggest distractions on the road and one of the most common causes of traffic fatalities, but now some city leaders are looking to put a stop to it.

After a unanimous vote, the Amarillo Traffic Commission is recommending city leaders make texting while driving illegal within city limits.

They say it's time to join many other Texas cities in the fight against fatal texting.

Traffic Commissioner Craig Gualtiere says, "I think what people need to take from this is that we are asking people to recognize there is a problem. If anyone out there watching this believes there is not a problem, then I don't believe you are living in the real world."

While they realize it's impossible to catch every person on their phone while at the wheel, they believe it will at least discourage drivers.

Gualtiere explains, "It's one thing to sit there and say, little Johnny, little Susie, you can't drive while texting. Now parents would have an extra tool in their toolbox to say not only is it dangerous for you to be driving and texting, but it's against the law."

But enforcing such a law, won't be easy.

Sgt. Brent Barbee with the Amarillo Police Department says, "There are a lot of difficulties enforcing a ban on just texting because it's difficult to know for certain what someone is doing when you see them holding up their phone."

However, city officials say there is a major change in the works that could help solve part of the enforcement problem.

City Commissioner Dr. Brian Eades explains, "We have an inadequate number of police officers per capita in the City of Amarillo. It is our goal now and we are in the process of rectifying that."

More police means more eyes on Amarillo drivers and hopefully more phones in pockets, instead of hands.

The next step is for city officials to begin drafting the ordinance to put in front of city commissioners for their votes.