Texting And Driving Almost Banned In Texas
A bill written by former House speaker, Tom Craddick, will ensure - if passed - that texting and driving will be illegal in Texas. Ironically, Craddick is the same man who voted against Texas' requirement for drivers wearing seat belts.
The House of Representatives passed the billed after a three-hour debate and settled with a vote of 98-47. If the bill becomes law, it would ban texting and driving, prohibit police officers from confiscating a driver's phone, require signs that will be posted along Texas interstates, and prohibit cities from making stricter ordinances. The bill will also forbid reading emails and text messages - which Craddick feels is just as dangerous as writing emails and text messages.
The bill comes as an addition to already current Texas law that bans texting and driving among drivers with learning permits and new drivers under the age of 18. Texas also bans texting and cell phone use of drivers in school zones and by school bus drivers.
However, despite the bill's success in the House of Representatives, Governor Rick Perry publicly announced his intention to veto the bill the first chance he gets. Perry vetoed a similar bill in 2011, stating it is Texas driver's responsibility to make intelligent decisions while driving. Perry also claims that whenever he has a chance, he will veto any similar bills banning the act of texting and driving. However, his veto can be overturned by two-thirds vote in each chamber.
Some have wondered why the law is necessary - believing that a complete ban on reading and writing emails and text messages while driving will not reduce the number of vehicle crashes. Others believe that the ban will save lives and prevent serious injuries. One thing is for sure; distracted driving each year causes thousands of Texas car accidents leading to injuries and deaths.
The bill is named Alex Brown Memorial Act for a Lubbock teen that was killed when her truck rolled because she was sending a text message. Another example is a girl named Chandler Small - an A&M student. Small was killed on her way home from visiting friends at Sam Houston State University. Officials say Small was speeding and texting on Highway 30 at the Walker-Grimes county line when she lost control and flipped her truck. Unfortunately, Small died at the scene.
This bill would charge drivers who are caught texting and driving with a $100 fine for the first offense. The second offense would lead to a $200 fine. However, there are exceptions that would apply. For example, a driver could not be fined for using electronic devices such as a GPS, looking up a phone number, or in emergency situations.