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Oxford Police Prepare for the New Texting and Driving Law

The new Mississippian texting and driving law, House Bill 389, went into effect yesterday.

All drivers in Oxford will think twice about checking their phones, even while braked. Oxford police’s Deputy Chief James Owens said, “While at the red lights and the stop signs the police officers will check to see people texting. They will look for active texting which is a probable cause to pull someone over for.”

“We’re always on the lookout, 24/7, for distracted drivers,” said Owens.

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The new law bans drivers from writing, reading or sending text messages, emails or social media messages. These traffic citations are currently $25. By next July, they will be $100. These tickets are civil, not criminal, so they can be taken up at the justice court instead of the municipal court.

In the past, Oxford police ticketed these drivers on the charges of careless driving. Now with the new prohibition law in effect the police will issue citations on charges of “texting while driving.”

MDOT reported: “Text messaging creates a risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Drivers talking or texting can miss seeing up to 50 percent of their driving environment, a phenomenon known as ‘inattention blindness.’ Contrary to popular belief, the human brain cannot multitask. Instead of processing both cognitive tasks at once, the brain rapidly switches between the two activities.”

For those who use GPS apps such as Apple Maps on their phones can still get a ticket for holding that phone in front of their face, therefore reading the directions, instead of listening to the phone as it gave voice-activated directions, according to Owens who cited the text of the law.

The House Bill 389 specified while the cell phones count as hand-held devices, the voice-operated devices are not affected by this law. The voice-operated devices are those that allow the users to “write, send or read a text message without the use of either hand except to activated, deactivate or initiate a feature or function.” The law specified further that “‘writing,’ ‘sending’ and ‘reading,’ with respect to a text message, mean the manual entry, sending or retrieval of a text message, respectively, to communicate with any person or device.

Owens said, “If you need to use your phone that badly, please pull over to the side of the road.”


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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