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Texas city offering alternative to texting while driving fine

One Texas city is trying an alternative punishment method to stamp out the problem of distracted driving. As Houston residents are aware, distracted driving, including texting, fiddling with a music player or talking on a cellphone, can have disastrous consequences. A driver can cause a car accident that puts his or her own safety at risk, along with the safety of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

The city of El Paso, the only Texas city with an ordinance banning texting or cellphone use while driving, is giving first-time offenders the chance to have a ticket dismissed if the driver displays a red and black "No Talking, No Texting" sticker on their cars.

The new program has been put together by El Paso municipal courts. Judges say the goal is to raise more awareness of the law. Drivers who choose to display the stickers will have to abide by certain terms in order to have the ticket dismissed.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 81,000 crashes in 2011 in the state involved distracted driving. While El Paso is the only city with a cellphone usage and texting ban, Austin and Arlington both ban texting.

A statewide ban on texting while driving was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry last year, who, according to reports, said the bill imposed too many restrictions on law-abiding adults. State law bans texting and cellphone usage for all drivers younger than 18.

But with the alarming number of accidents caused by distracted drivers just last year, more adults should take the dangers of distracted driving seriously. It puts everyone's safety at risk.

Source: El Paso Times, "Distracted driving? Pay fine or put sticker on car," Aileen B. Flores, April 4, 2012

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