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Austin to ban texting while driving

After considering it for a long time, the city of Austin is set to ban texting while driving.

Council members Mike Martinez and Chris Riley and Mayor Lee Leffingwell are proposing to prohibit writing, sending or reading text messages, instant messages or e-mails or viewing the Internet on a cell phone or other portable electronic device while driving a vehicle or a bike.

I don’t really want to know how you can text while riding a bike, do I? I guess if you’re one of those people who can ride with no hands on the handlebars, it’s doable.

They also want to require a 3-foot distance between vehicles and other “vulnerable road users” on the roadside, including cyclists, pedestrians and people in wheelchairs. Either party — the driver or the other road user — could be ticketed for failing to keep that distance, Martinez said.

The Safe Passing bill lives, at least in Austin. Governor Perry can’t veto this one.

If council members vote in favor of the policy changes Thursday, city staffers would write ordinances that would come back to the council for a vote before they’re enacted, a process that could take at least two months, Martinez said.

This has been a work in process since at least November of 2008. You can’t say they’ve rushed this, that’s for sure.

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