Drivers react to Austin’s new hands-free ordinance

Sarah Phillips

Austin enacted a cell phone ban Jan. 1 that prohibits citizens from using electronic devices while operating a vehicle or riding a bicycle. Any use of hand-held devices such as phones, GPS, iPods, pagers and laptops can result in a $500 fine.

“The concept behind the ban is a really good idea,” senior Obie Jones said. “People are going to be more focused on the road. I think the $500 fine is just right.”

Though many think the new rule is a positive change, some have their doubts on how effective it will be.

“I think that the initiative has good intentions, but a lot of people don’t obey it, and I have a lot of friends who still text,” senior Ashley Taylor said. “I’ve tried my hardest to obey it.”

The ordinance does have a few caveats: Bluetooth is still allowed, devices may be used if the vehicle is at a complete stop and cell phones may be used to call 911 in case of an emergency. The month of January will be grace period for drivers to adjust to the new law, so tickets won’t be handed out just yet.