No handheld devices in Gainesville school zones

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

GAINESVILLE, Tex. -- Gainesville drivers will soon have to put phone conversations on hold in school zones. On Tuesday the city council passed an ordinance barring driving with a handheld device during active school zones.

City leaders say so far no children have been hit by a driver on a cell phone, but they hope this pro-active measure will prevent accidents in the future.

"You have high traffic number 1, and then 2 you have a lot of kids and sometimes they dart between traffic and they felt it was important for a safety factor," says Barry Sullivan, Gainesville city manager.

A crossing guard suggested the ban after seeing scary moments involving drivers and cell phones. The council agreed, passing the ordinance in a meeting Tuesday night.

The North Dallas city Highland Park passed a similar ordinance several months ago, and the Gainesville decided to follow suit.

"I agree with that,” says Barbara Plumlee, a Gainesville driver. “I think that's a good thing, the kids around the area it's going to help save from a lot of accidents."

Sullivan says the city has spoken with TX-Dot officials to install signs like these at every school zone in the city. Even though most everyone is guilty of talking on cell phones, Sullivan says the goal is to protect children entering and leaving school.

"The idea of this is safety, it's not to write tickets," Sullivan says.

A person could still receive up to $200 in fines for violating the rule.

City leaders suggest just hanging up or using a hands free device when you see those flashing lights. The hands free devices are permitted, this includes an ear piece.

The ordinance will go into effect once the city installs the signs, which they say will be very soon.

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