Texas Bill to Ban Texting While Driving
Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 25-Apr-2011
In an effort to reduce motor vehicle accidents throughout the state, the Texas House passed HB 243 earlier this month. The bill makes it illegal to create or send text messages while driving, though it does not prohibit reading them or texting while the vehicle is stalled.
A fine of up to $200 may be imposed for violating the law, which, if also passed by the Senate, will go into effect September 1, 2011. Several cities in Texas already prohibit texting while driving, including Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, Galveston, El Paso and San Antonio. Statewide, those under 18 are also banned from using cell phones and texting.
Support of the bill has been strong. In March, Jeanne and Johnny Mac Brown made a heartfelt plea to The Texas House Committee on Transportation, urging them to ban texting on cell phones while driving. Their 17 year old daughter, Alex Brown, was killed when she lost control of her truck while texting four of her friends as she drove to school in 2009. Her parents are on a statewide campaign to reduce motor vehicle accidents by increasing awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.
Pew Internet recently reported that one of every three teenagers sent over 100 texts per day, totaling 3,000 messages per month. Of course, not all of those messages are sent while driving, but studies indicate teens are more prone than other age groups drive while distracted. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the age group with the highest proportion of fatal distracted driving accidents, 16 percent, is those under age 20.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the use of hand-held devices increases a driver’s chance of getting into a serious motor vehicle accident by four times.
Hopefully enacting legislation and increasing awareness will lead to a decline in car accidents caused by distracted driving.