Texting While Driving Is Still Legal In Texas

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Measure Would Have Saved Countless Lives

The much-anticipated anti-texting bill died in the Texas Senate in the last moments of the session earlier this week, so in most parts of the state it is still legal to text while driving a vehicle. Somehow we are one of the only five states in the U.S. to allow drivers to do this on an almost unlimited basis. Yet state lawmakers recognize the danger and don’t allow drivers under the age of 18 to do this or let any driver to text or even use a cell phone in a school zone.

House Bill 80 was approved by the Texas House in March and it was widely assumed that it would pass the Senate and be sent to the governor for signature. Unfortunately, Tarrant County’s new senator Konni Burton opposed the bill and the law fell one vote short of reaching the Senate floor.

In response to the defeat of HB80, the bill’s cosponsor Rep. Tom Craddick said: “Anybody who dies from texting while driving in the next two years, that’s on the back of those [opposing] senators.” Craddick has been trying to pass this law for years, and succeeded until then Governor Perry vetoed the legislation.

Why Do We Have a Patchwork of Local Regulations?

Texting while driving bans remain in place in about 40 municipalities that have passed local ordinances, including Arlington and Denton. However, most cities do not have a ban in place, including Dallas and Fort Worth. A statewide ban would have cleared confusion for motorists who may drive into and out of covered areas multiple times in a single day. 

HB 80 was the opportunity to avoid a “patchwork of local regulations” that Gov. Greg Abbott claimed was his reason for signing into law HB 40, which pre-empts local regulations of drilling-related activities. Earlier this year, he lamented,”We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”>Seems like the patchwork is only a problem when politically convenient.

Common Sense

Of course, not texting while driving is just common sense, but too often people think, “just this one time,” or “I’ve texted 100 times and nothing bad has ever happened before.” This is particularly true of teenagers, who lack the benefit of experience that risky behavior is a gamble that can be suddenly lost. People tend to follow rules, especially if an expensive traffic citation is possible. In addition, making the act unlawful emphasizes the seriousness of texting while driving. An anti-texting law won’t work for everyone; some people would continue to flaunt the law, just as they do DWI legislation. But, just as with drunk driving, enforcement of an anti-texting would impact enough people to make our roads safer.

Berenson Law Firm Can Help You Recover from the Distracted Driver Who Injured You

I have been helping auto accident victims for 35 years and am certified by the Texas Bar as a Personal Injury Trial Attorney since 1994. If you were injured by a distracted driver, call our Dallas-Fort Worth office for a free case evaluation. Berenson Law Firm can help you recover your damages.

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