Change is coming soon for people who like to use their phone while in the car in Amarillo.

Amarillo was somewhat of an early adopter of restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving.  Leading the way meant blazing a path and that meant crafting an ordinance without much to refer to.  Amarillo invented the hands-on ban wheel, so to speak.  This lead to Amarillo enacting one of the tightest and most restrictive ordinances of its kind regarding cell phones.  Not only does the law ban hands-on use of the phone while moving, under our municipal ordinance drivers are not allowed to text, talk, or otherwise use their phones while at a stop light.

This has made it especially difficult for Amarillo drivers to stay connected.  Unfortunately the prohibition of checking texts, email, and Facebook while stopped at a traffic light eliminates one of the few safe zones of connected opportunity.  This has caused many drivers to be disconnected for the entire duration of their drive.  Those days will soon be a memory.

The State of Texas recently passed a law very similar to Amarillo’s ordinance with a few exceptions.  Notably, it has decriminalized hands-on cell phone use while at a stoplight.  Our long municipal nightmare is almost over.  Beginning September 1st you can finally set aside the anxiety caused by driving disconnection, at least while at a stop light.  But this does allow you the freedom to at least do a quick phone check.  It’s expected a text will take on average two lights to complete but it will be possible, especially downtown.  And no need to worry about watching for the light to change.  Being the friendliest state in the country, the Texan behind you will notify you when you need to move.

As for me, I never use my phone while driving except when I’m sending a message.