The Galveston City Council on Thursday banned texting and e-mailing by drivers within the city limits.

The amendment to the city’s traffic code was approved 6-1, Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton opposed. Beeton wanted more public comment.

Councilman Tarris Woods proposed the amendment because of safety concerns.

Police spokesman Jeff Heyse said the new law would be easy to enforce. “It’s going to be one of those offenses like running a stop sign,” Heyse said. “We’re not going to have a special detail to go out and look for texting.”

The law bans using “wireless communication devices to view, send or compose an electronic message” while driving.

Violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

The law goes into effect 10 days after publication in the local newspaper, usually on a Sunday, city spokeswoman Alicia Cahill said.

Nineteen states, the District of Columbia and Guam already ban texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Six states have laws preventing local jurisdictions from banning texting or cell phone use.

West University Place in 2008 became the first municipality in the Houston area to ban the use of cell phones in school zones.

written by: HARVEY RICE