by Tim O’Hare
Texas is one of four states that ban the use of wireless devices by underage drivers. In Texas, school bus drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, and in 2011, Texas passed a bill outlawing the use of wireless devices in active school zones. But many state lawmakers don’t think these laws are enough to keep our roads safe.
Last month lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives passed a statewide ban on texting while driving. The bill, which is named in memory of Alex Brown, a Lubbock teen who rolled her pickup truck while texting, did not pass through the Texas Senate.
While some believe a statewide bill banning text messaging while driving impedes a driver’s rights and freedoms, there is no denying that texting while driving is a growing problem on roads — not only in Texas but across the nation. Although this bill did not make it to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law, it is expected that lawmakers will continue to push for a statewide ban on texting while driving.
In 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted driving and more than 387,000 were injured. What’s even more telling, 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in a fatal crash were reported as being distracted while driving. According to research by Pew, 40 percent of American teens say they have been in a car while the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. (Distraction.gov)
Sending or reading a text message while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. This is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field going 55 miles per hour — blind.
If the Alex Brown Memorial Act had passed, Texas drivers would have been banned from texting, emailing, reading or instant messaging while driving. Drivers pulled over for violating the law would have been fined $100 and issued a misdemeanor traffic ticket. As it was written, the bill did not limit drivers from using a GPS or talking on a cell phone while driving.
State law or not, don’t text and drive. By doing so you are putting not only your life at risk, but also the lives of your passengers and other drivers on the road. That text message can wait.
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