College Station to repeal hands-free cell phone ordinance

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) – College Station was the first in the Brazos Valley to ban drivers from using a cell phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

That law was an across the board ban on using cell phones for any reason while driving, but College Station will soon repeal that ordinance in order to comply with the state's new law that only bans texting and driving.

In the state of Texas, it is still against the law to text and drives.

"It’s difficult to create a hybrid,” said College Station Police Chief, Scott McCollum. “To have a state law and a city ordinance that cover similar ground."

Last year, College Station passed its hands-free ordinance that prohibits drivers from using any aspect of their phones while the car is in motion.

The new state law overrides local law and allows drivers to use their phones for things like GPS.

"The state has preempted us from addressing the real issue which is looking down at a phone and writing in it,” said Councilman James Benham. “The only thing we're talking about here is preventing people from picking up the phone and putting it against their ear and talking."

Monday, College Station police presented data that suggested their version of the law was having a positive impact on driver safety.

"We saw a decrease down to six point eight percent that's an almost 42 percent decrease in wireless communication device use,” said Katie Womack, Senior Research Scientist with Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

The council says along with having an inconsistent law across the twin cities the real issue lies within the state's law.

"It falls significantly short of what we're trying to address which is distracted driving,” said McCollum.

There is not a set timeline for signs around town to come down because there is still a repeal process that has to take place.

Chief McCollum says he hopes drivers will voluntarily comply with the city’s ordinance in an effort to keep everyone on the road safe