Mexia: Another local city cracks down on distracted driving

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MEXIA, Texas (KWTX) The Mexia City Council has gone beyond the state ban on texting and driving by passing its own ordinance governing the use of hand-held devices while driving inside the city limits.

(Photo by Bill Gowdy)

The city had already enacted an ordinance banning the use of hand-held mobile phones to make calls or send messages in school zones.

A man who’s been advocating for distracted driving laws, Jimmy Rincker, spoke to council members before the vote.

“It takes seconds to look down at your phone, but it also takes seconds to have a wreck,” said Rincker.

His sister, Amanda Rincker, was killed on Nov. 6, 2015 while driving from Groesbeck to Mexia after she sent their cousin a text saying “Are you awake,” causing her to rear-end a car in front of her that was stopped to make a turn.

“Right after she passed away, I decided to kind of be a soldier on this, say ‘hey, you know what, we can make this world a better place,’” said Rincker. “Since then, I got Groesbeck to pass a no texting and driving ban in the city, and then I was part of the statewide ban, and then now we’re here with the ordinance to make a total hands-free ordinance in the City of Mexia.”

Rincker said Tuesday night was the culmination of two years of work to get this done in the city.

"I'm relieved, I'm excited, I’m grateful, I'm very, very humbled that I would be able to be a part of this history-making moment in Mexia,” said Rincker.

Along with the ordinance, council members vowed to continue to implement policies which seek to reduce instances of traffic violence, issuing a proclamation in remembrance of people like Amanda Rincker and her friend who was killed by a distracted driver in the area in 2014.

“I proclaim the 18th day of November, 2018, the City of Mexia’s ‘Day of Remembrance’ and hereby call upon all citizens of the City of Mexia to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to traffic violence and distracted driving,” said Mayor Arthur Busby.

Busby applauded citizens who already turn-off their phones when behind the wheel.

According to TxDOT, distracted driving was responsible for 19 percent of the state’s half-a-million vehicle crashes last year.

Since the statewide ban went into effect in Sept. 2017, state transportation officials say distracted driving continues to be a problem in Texas with data indicating drivers aren’t changing their behaviors.

“If you don’t have a ban, work with your city to get a hands-free ordinance,” said Rincker. “It’s something that’s very important.”

Now that the ordinance was passed in Mexia, Rincker had a new message for its citizens.

“Work with the police officers who try to enforce it,” he said.