Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hands free devices - but only in school zones?

I understand the intent of a new law, even if there are some inconsistencies. A regulation goes into effect next Tuesday (Sept. 1) in Texas requiring motorists to use a "hands free" device for phone calls, texting, and e-mails - but this law impacts school zones.

Anyone caught doing so within a school zone is subject to fine.

However, the various cities and counties need to post a sign at the entrance to a "school zone". While the majority are already indicated, this will mean additional costs for some cities and counties in the state.

Personally, count me among those who question the message this law sends. Us "older" folks will hopefully take this to mean extra steps to protect children. But I'm afraid that too many of the younger set, for whom the law is most intended, will do their own interpretation and think it OK to text and call and read their handheld devices when "outside" of a school zone. They will see it in the same category as "No ice cream after 9 PM" and go for 2 scoops at 6:00.

From a real estate standpoint, this could hold value for realty agents in the marketing of listings, and add appeal to potential buyers with young children.

A young family could then purchase a home down the block from a school and live in "a safety zone". According to this new law, their home would technically be "safer" than a similar home literally a block away (which happens to be outside of the school zone).

Will we see price increases for multiple bedroom homes located in or across from a school "safety zone"?

If it could result in a price increase and/or perceived as increased value for homes within these zones, how soon before this becomes a sales and negotiation point? This is different from zoning change requests, challenges to neighborhood boundaries, and other such attempts to impact local property values. Different because a home can't suddenly be included within a "school zone".

Thus, some current homeowners could have the luck of the draw and have one more sales feature than a neighbor further down the block. All because people are being told where they can text and call from with both hands on the wheel. There are no expressways or interstate highways which are considered part of a school zone, and that is the case all over and not just in Texas.

In reading up on this law, I didn't see anything indicating this is only a start toward banning texting or calling unless it is a hands free device in other places.

Just as bad, this regulation targets motorists. They will still have to be on alert for students walking across the street who are texting their friends.

That should want to make them call or text their local politicians. Even if they have to do it while driving on the expressway...................

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