Monday, February 19, 2018
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Sherea Vitelli

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Texas Legislators Deliberate Ban on Text

Texas Legislators Deliberate Ban on Text Messaging While Driving

Texas lawmakers have proposed no less than 10 bills for the 2011 legislative session banning texting while driving. Texas passed legislation in 2009 making it illegal to operate any kind of a cell phone -- including hands-free devices -- for anyone under the age of 18. However, no state law bans texting for all drivers, and handheld device use is legal for any driver not in a school zone. All of the 10 bills would ban texting while driving, and one of the bills currently under consideration also proposes banning motorists from talking on handheld cell phones on all roads.

Many Texas cities, among them Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso, also have laws restricting cell phone use in city limits. All of these cities ban texting while driving, and some prohibit handheld cell phone use.

A motorists who texts while driving is 23 times more likely to get into a car accident, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found, while dialing a phone makes it six times more likely.

The Chances of Any Bill Passing Is Still Uncertain

It is not clear that any of the bills will pass. Critics say that it is difficult to ban one form of distracted driving, such as texting, but not other forms, such as eating or grooming. Additionally, while there seems to be broad public support for bans against texting while driving, many motorists admit that they will occasionally text and drive. Because of this, much of the public is not overly eager to pass legislation prohibiting texts.

Enforcement of Potential Bans Problematic

There is also question of enforcing the texting bans. The city bans have met with mixed results. According to city police, in Missouri City, only 5 citations have been issued, and 11 in Galveston. However, in El Paso, where all handheld cell phone use is prohibited, police issued almost 6,500 tickets in the first year of enforcement. It banned cell phone use on April 1, 2010.

Distracted driving is a danger. Even if a bill does pass, it is unclear how well police could enforce the ban. And there are many ways to drive distracted, such as eating or talking with passengers.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver, contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss whether you can be compensated for your injuries.

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