The problem of texting and driving might be a stereotype of teens, but the truth is that far too many people in every age group have been practicing this incredibly dangerous act while driving. The state of Texas is one of many states that is getting tired of easily preventable accidents, the costs that come with them, and the unnecessary tragedies that many people endure as a result. While it can often be an uphill battle to force drivers to make the smart move and put down their phone, it seems like this might be the time in Texas where they are finally hitting the right moment to push it through.
State Rep Tom Craddick has tried repeatedly to push this bill into law and while the first four tries didn’t go anywhere, this time House Bill 62 seems to be gaining momentum the previous bills had never built up. This bill moved through the House Transportation Committee without issue with unanimous support which means the bill will actually head to a full chamber for debate.
Supporters of this bill, including committee chairwoman Geanie Morrison, are hoping this will lead to an actual vote and then the passage of the bill. Back in 2011, a similar bill had passed both chambers of the state government only to be vetoed by Governor Rick Perry under the assumption that this was infringing and micromanaging the behavior of adults. Supporters of the bill point to this as a very common-sense traffic safety issue.
Research Is Clear
Plenty of research has been done on texting and driving in controlled lab situations and up to this point the finding seems to be overwhelmingly clear: texting definitely makes the driver distracted to a dangerous level, sometimes worse than drunk driving. Recent studies at the University of Houston have continued to look at what increases stress while driving and to what level it causes more stressors to exist while driving.
There is no doubt that texting increases stressors and is in fact even worse than talking on a cell phone while driving. Driver distraction has caused a wide array of crashes, especially in work zone areas, and supporters of the bill point to these studies and statistics as proof that this type of bill is needed. The year of 2012 alone saw nearly 17,000 crashes in work zones with the majority of them being attributed to distracted driving.
There seems to be strong support on one level as there were no objections against the bill during the original committee hearing on Thursday. Even beyond this, it is worth noting that 46 of the 50 U.S. states already ban texting while driving while 17 states have gone even further and banned the use of all handheld devices while driving period. While it is hard to get a full list of just how many accidents were a result of distracted driving from texting or handheld devices, there were 476 confirmed people killed in accidents during the last year Texas has full numbers on.
This isn’t a controversial bill with most of the public. The majority of people seem to support not allowing texting and driving while support comes from police, public officials, and the business community as well. This is one of those safety bills that really should be passable, especially when looking at the price being paid for not currently having it in place.