Texas is one of the last strongholds — one of four states — of the texting while driving ban, but it looks like 2017 is the year that may change. This would be lawmakers’ fifth attempt at the ban.
A texting while driving ban passed the Legislature in 2011, but then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the proposal, claiming it micromanaged adults.
In early February, lawmakers and families that have lost loved ones to texting while driving accidents united at the State Capitol in support of the bill.
One lawmaker claims texting while driving is what drinking while driving was to earlier generations. Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville during a press conference stated, “I don’t even think or assume when I see someone swerving that it’s alcohol-related. I immediately assume it’s because they are distracted, because they are on their phones.”
Although more than 90 Texas cities, from San Antonio to Denton to Midland, have passed local ordinances outlawing texting while driving, there is no state law banning it. However, there are state laws prohibiting texting in school zones and forbidding drivers younger than 18 and bus drivers with minor passengers from texting while driving.
If passed, House Bill 62 could help prevent an estimated 3,500 deaths on Texas roads. The bill, known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act, is named after a 17-year-old Terry County high school who died in a texting while driving crash in 2009.
Nearly 15 percent of the 3,534 deaths from Texas traffic accidents involved a distracted driver.
House Bill 62 and its companion Senate Bill 31 would make texting while driving a criminal offense with fines between $25 and $99. Repeat offenders could face penalties up to $200.
Violators using a wireless communication device to “read, write or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped,” will be charged with a misdemeanor.
However, the bill allows Texas motorists to talk on the phone while driving as long as they use a hands-free device that only requires them to touch the phone or car to start or end a call.
If approved, the law could go into effect by Sept. 1, 2017.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured In A Texting While Driving Accident
Texting while driving, just like drinking while driving, is a dangerous combination. Drivers take their eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds within a 6-second interval when texting, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And one in five crashes in Texas result from distracted driving, according to the Texas Dept. of Transportation.
Texting while driving puts everyone on the road at risk. If you or a loved one has been injured in a texting while driving accident, contact The VanDeLoo Firm. Amy VanDeLoo is an experienced and honest personal injury attorney who serves the cities of Plano, Allen, Frisco and McKinney.