A few years ago, Curious Texas investigated how many people received texting-while-driving citations in North Texas.
In 2018, The Dallas Morning News reported that police issued more than 380 citations in eight cities across Dallas-Fort Worth since the statewide texting ban took effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
One reader wondered if Curious Texas could follow up and see the latest numbers.
It has been illegal to read, write or text while driving in Texas since Sept. 1, 2017.
In Texas, drivers with learner’s permits cannot use cell phones during the first six months of driving, and drivers under 18 cannot use handheld devices. School bus drivers also cannot use cell phones while driving if there are children present.
Across the state, cell phone use is prohibited in a school zone.
First-time violators could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine between $25 to $99. Repeat offenses could each be between $100 to $200.
If a person who was texting while driving causes an accident that results in someone being seriously injured or killed, the driver could face a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
The Texas Department of Transportation said that in 2020, 368 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving, a 3% decrease from 2019.
The Morning News obtained records from eight cities across D-FW for people who were issued texting-while-driving citations since September 2017.
Arlington, Frisco, McKinney and Richardson each issued less than 100 citations since 2017. Records show that 72 of 90 citations issued in Frisco were in school zones, and McKinney issued 21 citations, 11 of which were warnings.
City of Dallas records shows that 134 citations were issued for people who were texting and driving since 2017.
Plano had one of the highest citation counts to date — 180 — of the eight cities. Of the citations, 23 were issued in 2017, 55 in 2018, 70 in 2019, 27 in 2020 and five so far this year.
Many of Plano’s texting-while-driving citations were issued in school zones. The city had a law against using mobile devices in school zones before the statewide texting ban, and Plano police spokesman Officer David Tilley said traffic officers are most vigilant in these zones.
“These areas are very concerning to us because sometimes kids have a tendency to not pay as much attention as an adult might, and I personally have seen kids run across traffic trying to beat cars,” Tilley said in an email. “Folks not paying attention in these school zones create more of a danger to these children.”
Since the statewide ban, Tilley said he believes there hasn’t been as much of a decrease in texting while operating a vehicle. He said the only way to see an impact is to continue strict enforcement.
“I do believe citizens care about safety, and many of them are parents themselves,” Tilley said. “Our hopes are someone will consider the tragedy and how it would affect them if they are the cause of a serious injury or death of someone just because they felt that text was more important than the life of a child.”
Tilley said he isn’t aware of a fatality in Plano caused by texting while driving.
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