Your Questions Answered: Texting and driving

By Tiffany Huertas - Video Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - KSAT has gotten a number of questions from viewers about the texting and driving ordinance that went into effect several years ago.

One viewer wanted to know how San Antonio police enforces the law. Another wanted to know how many tickets have been issued. A third was wondering about how the state law impacts the ordinance. 

KSAT's Tiffany Huertas reached out to San Antonio police for some answers:

In January 2015, the city of San Antonio took action.

"City ordinance says ... do not engage in a phone call, any kind of texting, gaming, any kind of activity on your phone," San Antonio police Officer Doug Greene said.

Greene said enforcing the ordinance is a team effort.

"It’s enforced by San Antonio Police Department by the patrol unit, traffic division, our guys on our motorcycle unit." Greene said. "Also airport police and park police are constantly patrolling, looking for individuals who are holding that phone up to their ear."

Greene said those who break the law will face the consequences.

"We will make a traffic stop and we will either issue a citation or a warning citation," he said. "You are looking at fines up to $200."

According to an SAPD report issued in early March, the number of citations of "use of handheld mobile communication device" since 2015 has remained somewhat steady. In 2015, from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, there were 10,367 citations issued. In 2018, from January to December, there were 10,292.

The state of Texas has also taken action. As of Sept. 1, 2017, state law makes it illegal for all drivers to read, write, or send a text and drive in Texas.

Greene said the ordinance and the law are working together.

"It is co-existing well," he said. "The only thing is people need to keep in mind is in certain situations, in certain areas in the state of Texas, you are allowed to, if you are at a stop sign (or) if your vehicle is not in motion, use that communication device. If the city already has an ordinance in place prohibiting that, then you are violating (the ordinance), even if it’s the state law."

What can you do if you see someone texting and driving?

"We highly recommend people don’t take the situation in their own hand," Greene said. "If they do see someone that’s really into really causing a hazard on our street or really weaving in and out of traffic, they are almost causing accidents, we recommend that you go ahead and make that phone call to us -- just do it safely."

Greene said for those who choose to ignore the law, remember those whose lives have changed forever.

"If you don’t take it seriously you can just ask the families of those who have been impacted by this particular situation this activity," he said. "People have lost their lives and seriously injured by someone simply making a phone call, while they were driving or answering a text."

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