Texans Put Down Your Smart Phones and Pick Up Your Swords
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Many new laws take effect today in Texas, to include a texting-while-driving ban and the open carry of knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches.
Governor Abbott signed these laws and the end of the 85th regular session that ended in May.
The new texting-while-driving ban charges offenders with a misdemeanor offense if caught operating a motor vehicle while using their phones to read, write, or send an electronic message. First-time violators could be fined up to $99 or $200 for a repeat offense, reported the Texas Tribune.
Tracy Gonzalez, Public Information Officer for San Angelo Police Department, explained how police will enforce the new texting ban.
"If the officer has probable cause, based on observation, that someone is texting while driving, he/she can enforce the law," Gonzalez said. She added some of these observations include a drivers vehicle, weaving, inability to maintain a constant speed, or general driver inattention.
Regarding the use of navigation apps, while operating a vehicle, like Google Maps, Gonzalez said drivers should "always be cautious while using any handheld device while driving."
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured as a result of distracted driving.
There are several apps that can be downloaded for smart phones to block texts and calls while on the road. A list of the some of the recommended apps can be found here.
"Yes-drivers should take advantage of [these apps]," Gonzalez stated, "frankly, the best advice is to just put the phone in the glovebox or console until you reach your destination."
HB 1935 eliminates swords, spears, daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, and Bowie knives from the list of illegal knives and limits the places they can be carried.
According to a report in the Dallas Observer, “The bill completes Knife Rights’ efforts to bring knife freedom to Texas , according to the group, a nonprofit that describes itself as giving voice to knife and edge tool owners, ‘to influence public policy and oppose efforts to restrict the right to own, use and carry knives and edged tools’.”
It is still illegal to carry knives at schools, colleges, correctional facilities, houses of worship, and bars. HB 1935 changes ‘illegal knives’ to ‘location restricted knives.