Texas considers statewide ban on texting and driving

15 Texas families who have lost loved ones to motor vehicle accidents involving texting while driving appeared at a briefing at the Texas capitol building to show their support for the Alex Brown Memorial Act. The bill prohibits drivers from using a cell phone to type, read or send a text message while operating their vehicle, though it would allow a driver to text if they were outside a travel lane and the vehicle was stopped. Fines would range from $25 to $200. The proposed ban on texting and driving would be statewide. There are already some localized bans on using cell phones in school zones. This is the fourth time that Senator Judith Zaffirini has proposed the ban.

Texas Dept. of Transportation data shows that cell phone use causing distracted driving killed 52 people in Texas in 2014, and in 2013 there were 459 fatal crashes involving a distracted driver, of which 56 deaths were caused by cell phone use.

A bill previously passed both chambers in 2011 but was vetoed by Governor Rick Perry. Critics of the proposed ban say that it won’t be effective and people will text and drive anyway. That’s not a very effective argument. You could say the same about speed limits on roads: why have speed limits when people are going to speed anyway. If speed limits were removed some people would drive dangerously fast because there would be no consequences to doing so. Perhaps if there was a consequence to driving distracted by texting, less people would do it and we’d all be safer.

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