New Texas Bill Targets Texting Behind the Wheel

Nov 2012

Texting while driving has become a huge problem nationally, with roughly a quarter of all car accidents last year involving cell phones.

Still, San Antonio car accident lawyers know that the state has yet to issue a uniform ban on the practice.

Some cities, such as San Antonio and Austin, have implemented their own measures. And we know that motorists under the age of 18, bus drivers and anyone in a school crossing zone is prohibited from using handheld cellular devices.

But a new effort is seeking to initiate a more sweeping piece of legislation to help curb the number of texting-related crashes.

The San Antonio News-Express reports that former Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick filed legislation on Nov. 12 that would ban texting while driving in Texas. It’s called HB 63, and it’s Craddick’s second crack at the measure.

Two years ago, legislators were successful in passing a texting while driving ban, but Gov. Rick Perry ultimately vetoed the measure, saying it was an example of government overreaching.

The proposed ban wouldn’t apply to dialing a phone number on a handheld device or using a global positioning satellite. It also wouldn’t apply to voice-operated or hands-free technology.

The measure is intended to introduce common-sense safety by preventing drivers from being allowed to read, write or send texts or e-mails at any point while operating a vehicle, except when the vehicle is stopped.

San Antonio’s texting ban is actually more strict in that it forbids drivers from texting or reading e-mails on handheld devices even when they’re stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.

The bill will be named after Alex Brown, a senior in high school who died in a crash that investigators say was caused by texting.

In 39 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, it is illegal for anyone to text while driving.

At the earliest, the bill would be considered Jan. 8, which is when the new legislative session opens. It’s likely, however, that we wouldn’t get a final decision on it until at least the middle of next year.

Researchers have found that a driver who is texting poses a similar risk to a driver who is intoxicated. A person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to crash than someone who isn’t.

It’s a major problem especially for teens, with 34 percent admitting to texting behind the wheel and another 13 percent between the ages of 18 to 20 admitting to texting at the time of a crash. What’s especially troubling is that nearly 8 out of 10 teens think they can safely text while driving.

They have no idea. Teens who text while they drive reportedly spend about 10 percent of their drive time outside of their own lane.

Nearly a third of adults admit to sending or receiving texts while behind the wheel, and nearly half of children between the ages of 12 and 17 say they’ve been in the car with a driver who was texting.

If you’ve been injured in a San Antonio car accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

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