ASK A COP: Behind the white line

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Margie from Port Arthur asks: Thanks for all the wonderful columns that have been filled with life-saving information that we are blessed to read every Tuesday. My question is regarding the white lines that are marked at intersections. Officer Antoine, is this white line part of the intersection, meaning if I haven’t crossed the white line before the signal light turned red, is this considered running red light?

Answer: Good question, Margie! I’m humbled by your statement regarding my column. The Port Arthur Police Department has been blessed by The Port Arthur News to connect and inform our motorists about safe driving. Margie, driving safety and laws are subjects that hit all of us because only a small percentage of us are thieves, illegal drug sellers/users, robbers or would intentionally set out to harm another without just cause, but we all drive or ride in a vehicle! Margie, the white line you referenced is a stop line in Texas and when vehicles are coming to a stop they should stop behind the white stop line. Margie, you are correct in stating if your vehicle hasn’t reached the white line before the light turned red and you continue to travel forward into the intersection, “YES” you just ran a red light! Let me be clear: The white stop line is not in the intersection, so there’s a chance for any motorist to cross the white stop line while the light is yellow and the signal light turns red before your vehicle enters the intersection. That would be illegal and the driver can be charged with disregarding a red light.

Gary from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, what is the procedure for a railroad arm that’s stuck down with its light flashing for an extended period of time? If there is no train in sight, what are drivers to do? It makes no sense to just sit at a place where the lights are obviously malfunctioning.

Answer: Good Question, Gary! This is a very simple question that apparently many people are lacking clarity regarding the answer. Gary, when you are stopped at a railroad crossing where the arms are malfunctioning, red lights flashing and clearly no train in sight, you simply “wait” or you can elect to turn around and go the other direction. If you see someone go between the railroad’s arms, that doesn’t mean follow the leader because if law enforcement is in the area, you just may be the violator they see crossing! Gary, every three hours someone is involved in a train crash in this country. In 2017, 232 people were needlessly killed in the U.S because drivers failed to take the railroad warning seriously, and ultimately paid with their lives. This has prompted the slogan “Stop because trains can’t!” So Gary, just be informed the next time you happen to be in line at a railroad crossing, you are free to turn around and go around the intersection. Just don’t go around the arms!

Mike from Bridge City asks: Officer Antoine, I thought Texas had a no texting law in place that prohibits drivers of these cars from texting while behind the wheel. It seems like every day, especially at red lights, people’s heads are buried in those darn phones. It’s almost like Texas doesn’t have a law addressing such behavior! Officer Antoine, in my opinion, texting and driving is out of control. Can Texas install cameras at red lights to catch these drivers messing with their cellphones while stopped at the light?

Answer: Good question, Mike! I can understand your frustration about driver’s inattentiveness behind the wheel on the roads of Texas. Distracted driving is no joke and lawmakers and law enforcement agencies across the state of Texas should make every effort to address this issue. Mike, the safety of all motorists on our roadway is paramount and adding the cellphone distractions only compromises our safety goal. But Mike, I believe you are lacking understanding about the Texas Texting law. While you are correct, texting while driving is a violation in Texas, but the same law allows for motorists to text at red lights while the vehicle is not in motion. I’m not in agreement with the allowance of texting while the vehicle is on a roadway, but I only enforce laws. So Mike, the next time you’re at a traffic signal and you look over and someone has their head buried in their cellphone, remember they’re NOT breaking the Texting law in Texas.