Texas Bans Cell Phones In School Zones

Texas Legislature House Bill 55 gives its cities and counties the choice (keyword there) of whether or not to ban cell phone usage in designated school zones.

In order for this to be enforced, signs must be posted. In addition, to be fined (which is $200 per infraction), the cell phone must be to your ear and your vehicle must be in motion. This means hands-free devices are acceptable and/or if you’re stopped, that’s okay also.

There are few instances I can cite where a bill is written correctly the first time; this is one of them. It’s fair, and the fact Texas is giving its cities and towns the choice of whether to enforce it is even better.

Big kudos to the Lone Star State for this one. Job well done.


  1. Unfortunately, laws like this have no effect. I see people in California still holding a phone to their ear while driving even though it is illegal to talk here without a hands free device. I see this on almost a daily basis while commuting.

  2. It won’t matter. People will continue to break the law and law enforcement can’t be everywhere.

  3. I think it will be more effective than you might think. I live in the DFW area. This is the only place I have ever lived or commuted often (OH, VA, KS, MO, CA) that people take school zone speed limits seriously. So I think there will be a good chance they take this seriously, too. (TX drivers are weird–the same dude that flashes you for going 22 in a 20 mph school zone will drive 80 in a 60 on the highway).

    I work in Irving, and they have had a posted school zone cell phone ban for a while. I have never seen anyone break it.

  4. I’ve yet to read the research that documents a part of the brain that is required to safely drive a motor vehicle that is compromised by holding a phone to your ear. I have seen a quasi-science experiment that proved, in my mind, that the more you have to think about something the less safely you can drive. Unfortunately they packaged the results as “you cannot safely drive will talking on the phone even with a hands free device”. What did they do? They set a driver up in a car with a external suspension system that reduced the tire traction and set him to perform figure 8’s on a test track. He performed that without problem while not talking on the phone. They then contacted the driver through a headset and began talking with him. Who, by the way, performed figures 8’s perfectly while conversing until he was asked recalled exactly what answer he had given to a specific question number on test he taken the day before. He then lost control of the car. What the experimenters did not do was the second part of the experience (you know that critical part called the control) which would be to sit the person he was talking to in the car beside him and have him ask similarly challenging question. Common sense would dictate that it is highly unlikely that changing that parameter would change the outcome. Surely someone would counter this by saying that the other person is in the car with him and therefore would somehow be able to assist the driver or at least have a vested interest in his safe driving:-) Ultimately the responsibility for safe driving rests on the driver. I’m afraid we cannot legislate common sense. Please don’t misunderstand me I think its good idea to punish people who drive unsafely in a school zone or any zone for that matter, but I don’t think the law really addresses the real root of the problem. Not giving you full attention to the task of driving. What about texting – don’t have to have the phone by your ear (so no fine in Texas) but it requires more mental attention to text then it does to talk. How about drive through food; messing about with fires, burgers, drinks and other food items must affect driver attention. Do you think that McDonald’s will ever allow a law to pass that would stop them from selling drive through food? What about smoking? You have to divert your attention from driving to get, light, flick the ash of off and butt out a cigarette. Pretty sure that the same industry that denies any link between smoking and health issues would not sit idly by while a ban of smoking behind the wheel law is passed. How long does the average person look at the radio/CD/MP3 player while driving. Surely we won’t see music free cars being made in the future. What is the answer? Unfortunately I don’t have one. I agree with what they are trying to do in Texas but I worry that it will fall short of what needs to be enforced. Safe driving at all times. We just have to ask ourselves what can I do make things better?

  5. Charles Evans says:

    The basic idea is to remove distractions. So what’s the difference between a phone to your ear and a hands-free device? None.
    Same distraction. Same child injured.

  6. For details on cell phone and texting bans in all states, go to http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx.

  7. i like to know how much fine it would be if any body got ticket using cell phone in school zone?

  8. Allisondunst says:

    Phones never were just to call. They were from the beginning an opportunity for discovering new ways of developing. Social media is the natural next step.

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