Legislation Has Bipartisan Support, But Will Our Governor Again Veto It?
A bill that would impose a statewide ban on texting while driving is coming before the Texas House this afternoon.. The House has passed anti-texting laws twice before but both were shot down. The first law was vetoed by former Gov. Rick Perry and the second law died in the Senate Transportation Committee two years later after Perry said he’d veto it again.
House Bill 80 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Tom Craddick, the former Speaker of the House, and who is the leading advocate for this important cause. The House Transportation Committee approved the bill earlier this month. That session was emotional as families of victims, doctors and police officers testified to the tragic consequences of texting while driving. The bill has broad bipartisan support — again.
House Bill 80 Anti-Texting Legislation
The House anti-texting bill currently reads:
“An operator commits an offense if the operator uses a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped and is outside a lane of travel.”
Exceptions are allowed for placing a telephone call, using voice-operated and hands-free technology, using a GPS, reporting illegal activity, seeking emergency assistance, reading an emergency-related text or while performing first responder duties. Violation of the law would be a misdemeanor, punishable by $25 to $99 for a first offense and $100 to $200 for subsequent offenses.
Governor’s Position on Statewide Anti-Texting Laws
Gov. Gregg Abbott campaigned on an anti-government interference platform and has vocally opposed local regulations that take power from the state. During his campaign, the governor explained he opposed a statewide texting ban that would “micromanage adult driving behavior.” Yet he does not support the authority of municipalities to create safer roadways. Ironically, Governor Abbott has been confined to a wheelchair due to a freak incident when a tree branch fell on him while he was jogging, so he of all people should understand how devastating an unexpected accident can be.
40 Texas Cities and 45 States Ban Texting While Driving
Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a ban on texting while driving in Mississippi, making this the 45th state with such a ban in place. 40 Texas cities have independently passed texting bans, creating a patchwork of laws throughout the state. Austin just made it illegal, so lawmakers can’t text while drive as they leave the state capitol after the hearing today. In the Metroplex, Arlington, Denton, Grand Prairie, Bedford and Farmers Branch outlaw texting while driving. Why doesn’t every city?
An Epidemic Problem
The Texas Medical Association estimates that distracted driving is responsible for 460 fatalities and more than 95,000 auto accidents. Gov. Abbott is concerned about protecting the rights of drivers to act carelessly, while ignoring the rights of other motorists and pedestrians to safety on our roadways.
Berenson Injury Law Supports a Statewide Texting While Driving Ban
We strongly support this legislation and urge Gov. Abbott to sign the bill if it passes the House and Senate. Why should Texas be one of the few states that continues this deadly practice?
Call your state representative and ask that he support this bill. I just did and he is in favor of HB 80. You can find your rep’s contact info here.
Better Call Bill
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision due to someone texting while driving, please contact a Dallas Fort Worth injury attorney, preferably one board certified in this field. Berenson Injury Law is here to assist you with your case.