The Texas Department of Transportation attributed 94,943 traffic crashes in 2013 to distracted driving. These crashes resulted in 18,576 serious injuries and 459 deaths. Seeing as nearly one in five crashes in Texas involves driver distraction, some members of the Texas Legislature made several attempts to implement a statewide ban on texting while driving. When statewide bans continuously met opposition, several Texas cities stepped up and passed their own laws.
Legislators have filed at least six bills proposing penalties for texting while driving. The most comprehensive bill, H.B. 63, and its identical companion, S.B. 28, tried to ban driver’s use of a handheld wireless communication device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. The bills would have allowed phone use to read and enter phone numbers and to use the phone as a navigational tool.
The Legislature passed a texting-while-driving ban in 2011, but Governor Rick Perry vetoed the measure. Subsequent measures were dropped in anticipation of another veto. Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, the author of two previous bills including H.B. 63, said he plans to try for a statewide bad again in the 2015 session.
Austin already has a law banning texting while driving in the city, but a new proposal seeks to prohibit cellphone use while driving entirely unless the driver has a hands-free device. The proposed ordinance was presented to Austin’s Public Safety Commission on June 2, 2014. Austin’s City Council could vote on the proposed ordinance as soon as August 1.
Nationwide, 43 states have laws banning texting while driving, and 12 states require drivers to use hands-free devices while talking on a cellphone.
If you have been the victim of a car accident, contact Greening Law, P.C. at 972-934-8900. Robert Greening, the principal attorney at Greening Law, P.C., has dedicated his 24 years of practice to the litigation of wrongful death and serious injury cases. Mr. Greening will answer any questions you may have concerning distracted driving laws and the potential recovery of damages.