Despite two previous failed attempts, Texas State Rep. Tom Craddick last week again filed proposed legislation aimed at banning texting while driving in the state.
This is the third time Craddick has introduced a bill that would make texting while driving illegal statewide. In 2013, he introduced a similar bill that ultimately died in the Senate Transportation Committee. Back in 2011, legislators passed such a ban but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill.
Opponents of such regulation have argued it would infringe on the privacy of drivers and would be largely unenforceable. Greg Abbott, Texas governor-elect, has already said he opposes such a bill. Like Perry, he has characterized it as an attempt to micromanage the behavior of adult drivers.
The next Texas legislative session doesn’t convene until Jan. 13, but Nov. 10 was the first day legislators could file bills for the upcoming session.
Like the two previous bills, House Bill 80 is named the Alex Brown Memorial Act to honor a Texas teenage girl who died in a single-vehicle crash in 2009 because she took her eyes off the road to text while driving to school.
"Like the Browns, families who have lost a loved one know all too well the dangers of texting while driving," Craddick said. "Not only can crashes cost a life, but texting crashes cost all Texas taxpayers an estimated $1.3 billion in medical care, emergency services, vehicle repairs, insurance premiums and lost productivity and wages."
In 2013, nearly one in five crashes in Texas involved driver distraction, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. There were 95,267 traffic crashes in Texas that involved distracted driving. These crashes resulted in 19,994 serious injuries and 507 deaths.
“Like driving drunk, texting while driving is a dangerous habit that is not just risking the driver's life, it is risking the lives of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike," Craddick said. "Writing a text, updating Facebook or checking your email messages is not worth injuring yourself or someone else."
Though Texas currently has no statewide ban for all drivers, the state has several laws in place that regulate texting while driving. State law bans texting while driving for drivers under 18. Additionally, school bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving with children on the bus, and drivers cannot use a cell phone or other handheld wireless device in an active school zone where signs are present.
About 38 Texas cities have adopted a local ordinance banning texting while driving, along with a handful that ban any type of handheld cell phone use.
Craddick’s bill would prohibit reading, typing or sending a text while driving. The ban would also cover electronic text-based communication such as e-mails and instant messaging. A first offense would carry a fine of $25-$99. Penalties for subsequent offenses would climb to $100-$200.
To view a KXAN News report on the bill, click on the photo or link above.