On Oct. 15 San Antonio became the third major city in Texas to mandate the No-Texting-While-Driving ban, following El Paso and Austin earlier this year. Soon UTSA students will be subject to the same law on campus.
The ordinance prohibits the use of hand-held mobile communication devices to send, read, or write a text message, or for gaming or viewing pictures, whether transmitted by Internet or other electronic means, while operating a motor vehicle.
The law is still in the warning stage, which means no citations will be issued for the first 90 days. After this period, anyone caught texting while driving could be fined up to $200.
UTSA has chosen to have its police department enforce this law on campus. After the ordinance becomes official, anyone texting while driving on campus could be issued a verbal or written warning or a citation set by the municipal court.
This ban, however, may not ensure that there will be no more texting while driving or that every violator will be caught. Speculation about the texting ban in other cities has led people to believe that even with this law in effect, drivers will still text, but discreetly.
“Putting this into effect is the discretion of the officer. We can see four or five violations just passing from one end of campus to the next, but we have to take priority,” UTSAPD Lieutenant Paul English said.
“We have to see it to enforce it, and that can be hard to do,” he added. He explained that violators could probably be more easily spotted by officers on bikes when traffic is slow or when traffic is being directed for events.
Many students agree that this ordinance is good for drivers and pedestrians alike, on and off campus.
“I personally don’t text and drive, but I’ll feel safer not having to worry about other drivers being distracted,” Danya de Leon, senior public relations major, said.
“People on campus don’t watch traffic enough and sometimes don’t even acknowledge each other,” Karla Hernandez, senior public relations major, said. “I’ve almost been hit in the parking lot by someone who was just not paying attention,” implying that adding texting just makes things worse.
“Our main concern is for the safety of the students,” UTSA Chief of Police Steve Barrera said. “There is room for potential concern because there are a lot of people driving around and a lot pedestrians passing throughout campus daily.”
“Texting while driving is taking a big risk,” Barrera said. “Being in a hurry is understandable, but it’s best to wait to send a text, or pull over. The possibility of hurting someone or having to pay a fine is just not worth it.”