Renewed push to ban texting while driving in Texas


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- This legislative session, lawmakers are once again filing bills to enact a statewide cellphone and electronic device ban while driving. An exception would be made in the case of handheld devices.

Austin already has an ordinance banning texting while driving. However, despite it, you will still see people texting while driving in the city limits.

It takes three seconds even just to type "I'm driving." KVUE timed it. Driving 55 mph, in three seconds, you'd travel a little more than 240 feet - distracted.

Detective Chad Francois of the Austin Police Department provided the formula. Francois said people need to learn to respect that their vehicles are a deadly weapon.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 3,048 traffic fatalities in Texas in 2011. 404 are blamed on distracted drivers.

Families shared stories of losing loved ones in such accidents during a news conference at the Capitol Tuesday. Joining them were several lawmakers supporting bills that would outlaw texting while driving.

State Representative Jose Menendez of San Antonio filed House Bill 41.

"So many, if not all of these deaths could have been prevented," Menendez said.

Menendez wrote another bill filed by Republican Tom Craddick of Midland. Both seek to ban the use of cellphones and wireless devices while driving. An exemption would be made for a hands-free device.

Governor Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill last year. However, at least six lawmakers have filed bills this legislative session seeking a statewide ban.

Rep. Ortiz Jr., Solomon P. Bill -
Rep. Lucio III, Eddie's Bill:
AT&T It Can Wait Factsheet:
National cellphone and texting Laws: