Texting while driving may soon be against the law in Texas. The Texas Tribune is reporting that legislation creating statewide texting while driving ban has been approved by the Texas Senate. Since this latest effort to curb distracted driving has already been approved by the House of Representatives, the bill’s next stop is the Governor’s desk.
Other Bills Banning Texting and Driving have Failed in Texas
Before passing the bill in the Senate, some Republicans sought to amend the bill by creating exceptions to allow drivers to use their phones for directions, to answer emergency messages, and to play music. Others argued these amendments would render the bill unenforceable. Someone caught texting while driving could argue they were checking for directions or changing the song. The amendment ultimately failed.
The bill’s author, Representative Tom Craddick, from Midland, has fought for ten years to make texting while driving illegal in Texas.
This is the fourth session in a row Craddick has attempted to pass a texting-while-driving ban. In 2015 and 2013, Craddick’s proposal passed the House but died in the Senate. In 2011, it traveled through both chambers only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry, who said it would “micromanage the behavior of adults.”
Texas Looks to Join the Majority of States Banning Texting While Driving
Texas is one of four states left in the country that does not have a statewide ban on texting and driving. A 2016 study of AT&T’s wireless customers estimated that the four states without full texting-while-driving bans have about a 17 percent higher rate of texting while driving than the other 46 states.
Although there will be amendments to the bill, reports are that these amendments will be approved by both the Senate and the House. The Texas Tribune is reporting that Craddick said he worked with Senator Judith Zaffirini and other senators on the amendments that the Senate approved and is reported to be pleased with the current version. Craddick says he has the votes needed in the House to accept the changes without having to call a conference committee of both chambers to hash out a compromise.
Craddick also expects Abbott to sign the bill. Although Craddick has not had a conversation with Governor Abbott or his office about whether the Governor would sign the bill, he has heard through acquaintances that it should happen.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has reported that all distracted driving resulted in about 470 fatalities and more than 18,000 injuries on Texas roads in 2015, with similar numbers of incidents in previous years. These are likely conservative estimates because many drivers involved in crashes are hesitant to admit they were distracted.
Contact a Houston Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by unsafe driving or texting while driving, Mynor E. Rodriguez may be able to help. He has fought for Texans injured by distracted driving. Let him help you. Contact him today.