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Grace Period Over; El Paso’s Cell Phone Ban Now In Effect

After a month of warnings, El Paso’s ban on the use of cell phones while driving went into effect Friday at midnight.

Police will begin issuing citations to any driver they see talking or texting on a cell phone. The use of a hands-free device is also prohibited but police officials say that citation may be dismissed in court depending on the discretion of the police officer and the judge. The cost of the citation may cost up to $150.

Many hope the new law will help make the streets of El Paso safer. “Some people don’t be paying attention when they be on their cell phone,” said Marquet Jeffries, “They be looking down, trying to text and all that stuff.”

Highway signs along I-10 flash messages stating “Drive now. Text or talk later.” And El Paso police said the number of overall crashes appears to have gone down throughout the city since city councilors passed the ban. They said there were about 40 fewer reported crashes in March, compared to last year.

This month, there have been 1,468 reported crashes as compared to 1,763 last April.

“I think it’s good. You’ve got too many people looking at their text messages causing accidents,” said Sean Robinson.

“I think it was a wake up call,” said Deedee Quijas. “I got myself a bluetooth and have been utilizing that.”

The ordinance is also bringing in big business for some wireless companies. “Hands free sales have really gone through the roof,” said Ryan Hunt, an employee at a local Cricket store. He said the sales at his store went up in between 60 and 70 percent.

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