There has really never been a shortage of distractions for drivers on the road. And where there are distractions, accidents are not uncommon. These days, though, the sources of distraction seem to be growing exponentially.

Chances are that if retrospective studies were to be conducted they would show that the number of deadly car accidents ticked up after radios became a standard feature in cars and trucks. Things surely got worse when cassette tape decks and CD players came into vogue.

Now we have MP3 players, electronic billboards that flash multiple, eye-catching messages, and cellphones. Some of them are smartphones that not only serve as phones, but GPS devices, MP3 players and texting devices.

From a consumer standpoint, they are convenient, all-in-one devices. From a driving standpoint, many would argue they have become all-in-one driving safety hazards.

That concern recently prompted the mayor of Houston and other major Texas cities to mount a campaign to get drivers to pledge they would not text and drive. In New York, Yahoo News reports, the state has announced plans to mount roadside signs directing drivers to “texting zone” areas where they can park and text safely.

This week, in Corpus Christi, the City Council joined 21 other cities in the state by and passed an ordinance that requires drivers to keep their hands off their cellphones while driving. They have to go hands free. If they don’t, and get caught, drivers will face a $500 fine.

The law goes into effect immediately, but the penalties do not. Officials say police will issue warnings during a 30-day grace period. After that, tickets and fines will start.

The city says its goal is to keep drivers eyes focused on the road, rather than their phones, and reduce car crashes. Emergency calls will still be allowed and drivers in a parked car, out of lanes of traffic, won’t be cited.

Source: KiiiTV.com, “Council Passes Ordinance Restricting Cell Phone Use While Driving,” Brian Burns, Oct. 8, 2013