Texting while driving is illegal in all but four states. Although dozens of Texas cities, including Austin, have outlawed texting while driving, the state still hasn’t managed to ban the reckless act. While there are state laws preventing texting in school zones, it really isn’t safe to be distracted while driving in any area. Not on a highway going 70 mph, not in your neighborhood, not ever.
The U.S. Department of Transportation cites that 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2014. Although the data doesn’t specify texting, the report states “At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.”
A bill to outlaw the practice was passed by the House and Senate in 2011, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry. In 2013, the House again passed a bill, but it didn’t go anywhere with Senate.
HB 62, and the companion bill, Senate Bill 31, would make it a criminal offense to use a wireless communication device while driving. This includes reading, writing or sending electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.
Violations would be a misdemeanor crime. If approved by lawmakers, and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, this measure could become law by Sept. 1.
It’s time to approve this law.
Banning texting while driving is not an infringement of Texans’ rights. Driving itself isn’t a right. You are not the only one in danger when you pick up your phone to read a message. It takes only a split second to take someone’s life and data shows that texting while driving is even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
Texas has enough issues with bad drivers without giving them a distraction. CarInsuranceComparison.com recently ranked Texas as having the fourth worst drivers in the nation. The website gave a score for five categories: fatalities rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, failure to obey, drunk driving, tickets and careless driving.
In the words of AT&T, It Can Wait.