In 2015, there were 476 people killed by distracted drivers on Texas roads, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The total number of distracted driving crashes in Texas in 2015 was 105,783, resulting in those 476 deaths as well as 2,502 people with serious injuries and 15,033 with moderate injuries.
Texas is one of only four states that have not banned texting and driving, even though studies show that a distracted driver is six times more likely to have an accident than a drunk driver. However, there are more than 100 Texas cities that have banned texting and driving. In addition, Texas does ban texting and driving for all drivers under the age of 18, all commercial vehicle drivers and all drivers in a school zone.
For years, Tom Craddick, a Republican senator from Midland, has attempted to pass a bill restricting texting and driving through the Texas legislature. In the past, the bill never made it through the House. A ban bill finally passed in 2011, but was vetoed by then-Governor Rick Perry.
However, on March 25, 2017, the Texas House passed a Craddick-sponsored bill that bans texting while driving by a vote of 114-32. The anti-texting bill now goes to the Texas Senate in the form of Senate Bill 31. Despite opposition from critics of earlier attempts who say a texting ban would infringe on the freedom of adult Texas drivers, Senate Bill 31 is ultimately expected to pass and sent to the Governor’s office to be signed into law.
The two bills create a statewide ban on texting while driving, with a few exceptions. The bills allow drivers to text in emergency situations and they do not include using GPS. Violators could be fined up to $99 for a first offense and a maximum $200 for any offense after that.
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