BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – Buda’s Hands Free Ordinance went into effect September 2015. It’s been over a year and the police department says they haven’t issued a single citation.
Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd says he believes residents are complying. Kidd also adds that large public campaigns from cities like Austin have helped spread awareness.
“We adopted our ordinance shortly after Austin, there were ads and billboards. Most of our residents go back and forth from Austin so I think it became normal for them,” said Kidd.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, last year 943 crashes were caused by distracted drivers in Hays County alone. That’s the same year the city of Buda decided to adopt a hands-free ordinance.
If caught using a phone while driving in Buda, a driver can face a fine up to $500. “I think we have probably given many verbal warnings. But, I think a combination of the education, the technology that most cars have, hands free options, I think we got compliance,” said Kidd.
But for Lisa Carlisle, a mom of four, she says that’s hard to believe because she’s seen it. “I’ve been in a situation where I was almost hit by someone texting especially with all the kids in the car, it’s scary,” said Carlisle. “They should be cracking down on it, it’s very serious.”
Other major cities in Hays County such as San Marcos and Kyle have cited drivers. In San Marcos, the ordinance went into effect April 2016; the San Marcos Police Department says they have cited 68 drivers. Kyle’s ordinance became law September 2015; the city of Kyle says they have issued eight citations and 24 warnings.
Chief Kidd adds that Buda is a little different, they don’t have a traffic division like larger cities do. Between 911 calls, he says his officers do their best to patrol traffic.
“Our patrolmen have a variety of duties, but at the end of the day we are about public safety.The calls that I get, the demands for service, quite a few of them are for traffic issues. So, I told our guys that at least 10 percent of our day should be dedicated to traffic enforcement,” said Kidd.