Texas Lawmakers Work to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 27-Aug-2012

A recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, published in the New York Times in 2009, found that those motorists who used a hand-held device while driving were 1.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash than those drivers focused only on the road. Additionally, hand-held device users were more than three times more likely to be involved in a crash while dialing.

Another study, conducted by the Center for Risk Studies at Harvard University in 2008, found that six percent of motor vehicle accidents were caused by people using a cell phone. That percentage equates to 2,600 deaths and 12,000 injuries per year.

Potential Texas Laws Targeting Distracted Driving

Prompted by the danger that distracted driving poses to motorists, Texas lawmakers are introducing several bills to ban or restrict the use of hand-held devices while driving.

State Representative Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) has authored a ban on the use of cell phones while driving several times during his tenure. In the past, his bills have been killed in committee, but Menendez is optimistic about this legislative session. Eight other cell phone bills have been filed for the 2011 session, which means the issue is getting the attention of Menendez’s fellow lawmakers.

“People talking or texting while driving are causing accidents, or putting themselves and others at risk of serious injuries and even death,” explained Menendez.

The issue of texting while driving is also being specifically targeted by some lawmakers. Former House Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) and Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) have both authored bills banning texting while driving. Such bans are already in effect in San Antonio and other Texas cities.

Industry Response

Surprisingly, cell phone companies, including Dallas-based AT&T, favor the bans. AT&T spokesperson Kerry Hibbs says the company already has a public service announcement campaign against texting while driving called “It Can Wait.” The company also works with schools to get students to sign pledges not to text and drive.

This may be the year that Texas lawmakers and industry leaders work together to put a stop to distracted driving, making the state’s roads safer for everyone.

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