Police on the prowl for distracted drivers in Austin

Bus hauling Austin police is seeking distracted drivers (KXAN Photo/ Daniel Guerrero)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, the Austin Police Department will reignite their hunt for distracted drivers.

This is an initiative they have launched several times this year. The officers will board a Capital Metro bus and look for drivers on their cell phones. Once they have spotted an offender, they will call a mobile patrol unit to pull over the violator. The Texas Transportation Safety and Security professionals will also ride along to help create a similar effort across the state.

Bus hauling Austin police seeking distracted drivers. Sending motorcyle officers to catch offenders (KXAN Photo/ Daniel Guerrero)
Bus hauling Austin police seeking distracted drivers. Sending motorcyle officers to catch offenders (KXAN Photo/ Daniel Guerrero)

Last year, distracted driving crashes killed 482 people in Texas, or one person approximately every 18 hours. Texas is one of the four states that still doesn’t’ have statewide bans on texting while driving. The bill will come up for debate during the next legislative session in January.

“It’s not surprising that people are doing it, what’s surprising to me is that people haven’t gone out and bought a blue tooth device,” said Sgt. Michael Barger with APD Highway Response Team.

Police in Austin hand out close to 7,000 distracted driving tickets every year. Each ticket carries a fine between $200 and $500. First-time offenders may be eligible to have their fine waived, if they can show proof that they bought a Bluetooth or other hands-free attachment for their phone or device after their citation.