See How Texas Aims To Ban Texting & Driving In 2015
Earlier this month, more than 30 families who have lost someone to distracted driving gathered at the Texas Capitol to rally support for twin bills (H.B. 80 and S.B. 25) that would ban texting while driving in Texas.
There were more than 94,000 distraction-related traffic accidents in Texas in 2013, which resulted in more than 18,000 serious injuries and 459 deaths. While 44 states already outlaw texting while driving, Texas does not.
The Texas Legislature made clear in 2011 where it stood on the dangers of texting while driving. Lawmakers, yielding to logic and no doubt mirroring the wisdom of their constituents, approved a state law banning this deadly practice. Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.
New governor, new hope
The logic has not changed since 2011, but the governor has. Republican and Democratic legislators are lining up votes to give this worthy effort another try. Legislators are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to keep an open mind, read the legislation and consider the mission of saving lives before yielding to concerns about “too much government intrusion.”
Too many Texans have died, been maimed or shattered other people’s lives over a texted LOL or BTW. No text message is so important that it’s worth inflicting such misery on others.
Abbott says that it’s premature to say he would veto such a bill and that he strongly supports safety on the road. He should Google the words “The Last Text” and click on the video links that appear. Watch the people — police officers, mothers, high school friends — crying as they recount the deaths of loved ones whose last words were texts like “where u at.”
If the texters could only see the wrecked lives left behind by their foolish decisions, they would no doubt answer Yes! to the question: Can it wait?
According to AT&T, which supports a ban, more than 100,000 car accidents a year are caused by people texting while driving. Forty-four other states already have outlawed the practice. Within Texas, 40 cities have banned it.
Those bans are in place for good reason: People still don’t think enough about the dangers, despite all the public-service ads with crying mothers talking about the consequences. Laws have a way of forcing behavioral changes, of forcing people tothink.
Too much government intrusion? Countless lives have been saved by seat belts. Countless more lives have been saved by laws — yes, intrusive laws — banning drunken driving. Studies show that the impaired behavior of texting behind the wheel, such as weaving, inattention to stop lights, failure to yield to pedestrians, is more dangerous than drunken driving.
Too much government intrusion is sometimes an understandable concern, but up against such public safety gains, it isn’t here.
BY THE NUMBERS: Sobering statistics
44: States with laws that ban texting while driving
40: Texas cities with such bans
3,331: People killed in U.S. crashes involving distracted drivers in 2011
387,000: People injured in distracted-driving accidents in 2011