Texas Texting Bill Again Tried

by Jim Adler

Again, the Texas Legislature is trying to pass a law to make it illegal to text and drive. But after such a bill passed both the Senate and House two years ago, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it, saying it would “micromanage the behavior of adults.”

Yet it’s not adults of all ages who are texting incessantly. It’s largely young people, most of whom admit texting while at the wheel — texting which takes their attention from the road and has led to thousands of fatal wrecks in texting accidents across America.

Texas law does already prohibit drivers younger than 18 from texting or even using a cellphone while driving. However, the new bill would make it illegal for anyone to text, email, instant-message or read their cell phone while driving a vehicle anywhere in the state.

It also would heighten awareness of the problem of texting while driving.

Thirty-nine states already have passed such laws, so Texas is one of the few holdouts. And even in Texas, so far 28 counties and municipalities have passed anti-texting laws, including San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Dallas.

Opponents argue that such laws can’t be enforced, but law officers say otherwise, including Houston Assistant Police Chief Don McKinney. And even AT&T, which profits from texting, supports this ban on safety grounds.

That’s because drivers, on average, take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds when reading or sending a text. This makes them statistically even more dangerous than drunk drivers.

Passing a law doesn’t mean everyone will be obey it, nor does it mean violators will always be caught and the law always can be enforced. But that’s true of any law. At the least, a law banning texting while driving establishes a public priority which can do good — and save lives.

Texting and driving don’t mix — for anyone. Now it’s time for Texas to acknowledge this.

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