Student Drivers Less Distracted Behind the Wheel

Student Drivers Less Distracted Behind the Wheel

by Sarah Bays

The Town of Argyle has aligned itself with much of Denton County as a new hands-free law came into effect toward the middle of last mont

That means it’s now illegal for anyone to use a handheld electronic device, like a cell phone or GPS, while driving through town.

And my, are those speed limits fast!

Although the town council unanimously approved this rule back in November, police will not issue tickets for violating the new law until May 1.

“The council wants Argyle to continue to be one of the safest towns in Texas,” said Mayor Peggy Kreuger. “We have two high schools that have young drivers and we feel that we need to do everything possible to make the drivers of Argyle as safe as possible.”

If you get pulled over for breaking this hands-free law you’ll face a fine that can be up to $200 per offense.

So what can you be cited for? Well, just about anything that involves a cell phone — speaking, texting, taking / viewing photos, playing that new iTunes song, reading email or Tweeting, to name a few — as long as you’re driving a car within a traffic lane or while it’s moving on a public road.

“We have observed many drivers that seem to be busy with their phones instead of driving,” Kreuger said. “We felt that we can never be too safe!”

Distracted driving is a problem anywhere, but it’s especially dangerous around schools. Argyle High School is right off a very fast-moving Hwy. 377. Parents, along with student drivers and bus drivers, must pull into the campus, which is somewhat hidden from the highway.

Telena Wright, superintendent of Argyle ISD, appreciates the law and how it will impact the area schools, such as Argyle High.

“Whether a student, parent or staff member is driving on a school campus or in close proximity to a campus, focus on the driving task is vital,” she said. “Being hands free increases focus on driving.

“In AISD safety and security are paramount. I believe that driving distractions need to be eliminated as much as possible.”

In fact,  traffic is already an issue around AISD.

“Traffic in our parking lots and in the streets coming into our school campuses can be very congested and backed up at times,” said Paul Cairney, chief of the AISD police. “We have pedestrians of all ages — young children through high schoolers — and drivers need to be on the lookout for them as they are transiting school grounds.

Argyle ISD has signs posted advising that the campus property is a hands-free environment.

“It’s very difficult to enforce if it’s still allowable in town. Now, hopefully that hands-free is required in the entire town, Argyle ISD won’t have so much trouble enforcing it on campus”

Cairney said there haven’t been any accidents or incidents that were related to using a cell or other electronic device while driving.

“For what it’s worth, it really isn’t the students’ driving which concerns me,” he said. “The parents, in my opinion, are the bigger violators. Seriously.”

If you use a Bluetooth hookup or earbuds you can still use your phone to talk or text, but you need to keep your hands from the phone. You won’t get a ticket for these things and you’ll be a lot safer.

Also, using the vehicle’s built-in navigation system is OK. Making an emergency phone call is also permitted under this law.

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