The Bedford City Council just passed an ordinance that makes texting while driving a Class C misdemeanor that is subject to a $200.00 fine. Reading, writing and sending texts and emails and using the Internet while driving are now unlawful. Exceptions include using the smartphone in its hands-free mode or as a GPS system by affixing the device to a rear view mirror.
The popular measure gained the support of 90 percent of Bedford residents and won unanimous votes of the full City Council. Texting while driving is already unlawful in other Texas jurisdictions and will hopefully one day be banned statewide. The dangers associated with using electronic devices while controlling a vehicle so far outweigh any possible benefits that banning the activity is common sense.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 460 of the 3,377 fatal automobile and truck accidents in Texas in 2013 involved distracted drivers.
Bedford Police Chief Roger Gibson cites National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics when he made the eye-opening comparison that texting while driving is tantamount to
getting behind the wheel after drinking four beers. Yet people who would never consider driving drunk often think nothing of typing a “quick”
message into their smartphones or glancing down to read the text box
that pops up on the screen. Although they may not fully comprehend the
dangers, these law abiding drivers are more likely to put the phone down to avoid getting a traffic ticket.
Texting and Driving Prohibition Laws in Other Texas Jurisdictions
To date, 38 Texas cities — including Arlington, Grand Prairie and Denton here in the Metroplex — prohibit texting while driving. Laws banning texting while driving
have proven effective in other jurisdictions. Fort Worth, Dallas, and all cities should do the same.
During the past year,
Arlington police wrote 381 tickets to drivers for unlawful use of their
smartphones, including 318 motorists who used a tech device within a
school zone. But the patchwork legislation is confusing to drivers,
making a statewide ban a logical next step. But it will presumably never happen.
State Rep. Tom Craddick again introduced a Texas texting ban statute
just a week prior to the passage of the Bedford ordinance. The Texas
law would prohibit texting by all drivers throughout the state.
Currently Texas statutes prohibit:
- Hands-free and handheld mobile device use by bus drives
- Hands-free and handheld mobile device use by novice drivers, including teens
- Texting by bus drivers
- Texting by novice and teen drivers
- Handheld mobile device use and texting by all drivers within school zones
Unfortunately, Governor-elect Greg Abbott opposes legislation that would
prohibit texting while driving in Texas. Legislators already met
opposition from Gov. Rick Perry when he vetoed a similar bill four years
ago, calling the measure “government micromanagement.”
careless drivers from putting other motorists at risk of injury and even death is not government
micromanagement but is instead one of government’s duty — to protect the public. I call on Governor-Elect Abbott and the Texas Legislature to do the right thing and outlaw this dangerous — and all too common — practice on our highways.
Hold the texting driver who injured you accountable
Bill Berenson Injury Law can help you if you were injured by a texting driver. Our firm conducts an investigation into your automobile or truck accident to try to learn whether the other driver was using a smartphone at the time and uses this information to establish fault. Learn more at your free consultation, which you can schedule by calling 817-885-8000 or toll-free 1-888-801-8585 or by emailing us here.