The Texas House on Wednesday passed a statewide ban on texting while driving.
Members voted 113-32 to tentatively approve the legislation, which will get a final vote in the House before it can proceed to the Senate. A Senate committee has passed a similar measure.
Texas is one of four states that do not have a statewide ban on texting and driving.
For years, the bill's author, state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has pushed legislation that would penalize drivers who use their phones on the road.
In 2015 and 2013, Craddick's proposal passed the House but died in the Senate. In 2011, it traveled through both chambers only to be vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, who said it would “micromanage the behavior of adults.”
About three dozen Texas cities already have a texting-and-driving ban in place. Cities would still be allowed to implement ordinances that are stricter than the proposed state law.
In a tweet, House Speaker Joe Straus congratulated Craddick on what he called “common-sense” legislation.
Opponents of the bill raised concerns about how a police officer could tell that a person was texting, especially because the legislation officers could not take and inspect the phone.
The National High Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every day in the United States, more than eight people are killed in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
- Last session, Craddick's bill passed the House but didn't have the political fuel it needed to make it onto the Senate floor.
- A group of Tea Party freshmen coordinated their efforts to successfully kill the bill in 2015.
- The Texas Tribune took a closer look, last session, at local texting-and-driving bans that already exist in about three dozen cities.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/03/15/texting-driving/.
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