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No texting/driving tickets issued in Kilgore in ban's first month

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The first month of the state’s texting-and-driving ban passed without any citations in the City of Kilgore.

Officers are on the lookout, Lt. Jonathan Gage says, and Kilgore Police Department will enforce House Bill No. 62 as needed – granted, that’s no simple task.

Targeting the dangers of distracted driving, the Texas law banning written, electronic communications behind the wheel of a moving vehicle went into effect Sept. 1. It prohibits typing, sending and reading texts and emails as well as posting to social media via a wireless communications device.

Numerous uses of the gadgets – smartphones, tablets, etc. – are still OK, such as pulling up music or setting an address in a GPS app.

Those caveats make catching someone in the act of a proscribed activity that much more difficult, Gage said Friday, and September’s records note no violations inside the city limits.

“We’re not shown to have any, not any at all,” he confirmed.

Extensive training is pending on HB 62, but KPD personnel already attended a legal-update class on other impacts of the 85th legislative session earlier this year.

“That law is very specific when it comes to texting,” Gage added: “There are some things that people are allowed to do with their phone.

“At your average driving speeds, it’s impossible to know what they’re doing – if they’re just looking at their phone to accept a call, if they’re looking at GPS on their phone to try to find their way, those are things the law allows them to do … The law sounds simple, but it is not that simple.”

Only in a school zone, he noted, is a violation relatively easy to spot – most use of an in-hand wireless device is prohibited.

“I know we’ve written tickets for that, but that’s been around for a while. The only stipulation of that law is if you stop, if you not moving, or if you’re using the device hands-free.”

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, one in five crashes in the State of Texas are caused by distracted ranging, ranging from using a wireless device to eating, grooming, reading, GPS navigation or adjusting the radio.

“In 2016, there were 109,658 traffic crashes in Texas involving distracted driving—up 3 percent over 2015. More than 3,000 people were seriously injured as a result, and 455 died. These crashes were highest among new and younger drivers ages 16 to 34,” the agency reports. “TxDOT is asking all drivers to always keep their eyes and attention on the road and avoid distractions of any kind.”

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