Texas texting & driving bill fails

State Rep. Tom Craddick of Texas lashes outTexas backers of a statewide texting & driving law will have at least two more years to wait.

State Rep. Tom Craddick, left, said any texting-related deaths in that period would be “on the back of those senators” who refused to bring his distracted driving legislation to the Senate floor.

The distracted driving plan, he said, “will not become law and will not help prevent future injuries or loss of life.”

Craddick’s House Bill 80 was approved by the House in a 102-40 vote March 25. The bill was delayed in Senate committee by an opponent, and then fell one vote short of reaching the Senate floor. This was veteran lawmaker Craddick’s third attempt to outlaw text messaging Texas’ adult drivers.

The legislation’s Republican opponents — whom Craddick called “the liberty caucus” — cited personal freedom and enforceability issues. Texas remains one of a handful of states without a statewide texting law affecting all drivers.

Opposition leader state Sen. Konni Burton had charged that the texting & driving measure “does not provide any additional protections to Texans and contains several enforceability issues.”

The texting bill would have faced a possible veto even had it succeeded in the Senate. The previous governor vetoed the 2011 measure and the new governor had stated opposition to further distracted driving legislation. Backers had hoped, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent mixed signals on the issue would have led to his support.

Craddick said Abbott would have signed the bill because it would have removed the crazy quilt of local laws addressing distracted driving.

“It is always disappointing when good legislation does not get enacted,” said Craddick, “but is especially tough to tell the families that have lost loved ones because of a texting-while-driving crash or to look in the eye of a victim who is permanently confined to a wheelchair because of a distracted driving crash.”

The bill’s Senate sponsor was Judith Zaffirini. Another key supporter was Sen. Joan Huffman, whose State Affairs Committee approved the distracted driving bill in a 5-2 vote. Opponent Sen. Don Huffines deliberately delayed the measure in committee.

52 people died in crashes linked to cell phone use in 2014, the Texas Department of Transportation reported.

Texas, which places no restrictions on adult drivers’ use of personal electronics, does bar drivers under age 18 from using wireless communications devices.

Read more about the history of distracted driving laws in Texas.

Comments

  1. Roy Tiffner says:

    It’s time everyone woke up and did their homework. Stop vilifying people actually trying to do something other than talk. I found this post looking for an opportunity to devote my time and energy to total hands free legislation efforts.

    If you were not on your phone the last time you were driving, you would have noticed that the problem is epidemic. I have seen drivers weaving as bad as I would expect from a severely intoxicated driver only to find that they were on the phone or texting.

    I have actually seen one driver reading a document held in his left hand at the steering wheel, holding a phone to his ear in his right, referring back to a laptop in the passenger seat, weaving in rush hour traffic. He was probably an attorney that opposes this type of legislation.

    People that are too disorganized, self-involved or insecure to be out of touch even the length of their commute certainly do not have the maturity to be driving if they are not going to do so in manner that does not put other people’s husbands, wives and children in danger. These people should be treated with the same criminal harshness as someone who would get drunk and get behind the wheel.

    I generally oppose new legislation but this problem is too large to ignore. I would prefer that distracted driving laws already on the books be vigorously enforced and possibly revamped to include serious consequences that could lead to loss of driving privileges for repeat offenders similar to DWI.

    This way, law enforcement would have the tools to cite drivers for failure to properly control their vehicle for whatever reason whether it be, electronics, a Big Mac or digging sunglasses of the floorboard.

  2. Ben Levitan says:

    Good that the law failed! Wake up; boys and girls. Texting while driving laws do NOTHING to reduce traffic deaths and do PLENTY to increase the coffers of politicians though fines. Every state that has passed this law has shown NO reduction in traffic deaths. Every state that has passed these laws have bragged about the amount of money the new law has brought in and said nothing about the reduction in accidents. Politician pass the laws under the guise of safety but they know it’s just a new revenue stream for the state.

    Wake up guys. The only real solution is a technical solution. I’m an electrical engineer with 30 patents in cell phone technology. These days I spend 1/3 of my life testifying as an expert witness in accident cases where I show that one of the parties was talking or texting on a cell phone and that was the cause of the accident. I’d love to never do another one of these horrible cases.

    There are technical solutions that can be installed at the phone company that will stop texting and driving dead. (NOT an app). Let’s mandate that cell phone companies block texting (receiving or sending text) while driving. It will cost a lot less than these STUPID laws and will actually be effective.

    I get so tired of this discussion. Let’s do something that actually WORKS.

  3. Al Cinamon says:

    It’s about time that Rep. Tom Craddick did his homework. Anti texting laws just make drivers put the device in their lap so it can’t be seen, which causes a greater distraction. So, even if Texas did pass a law against texting, it would be encouraging more serious distracted driving and then the “related deaths would be on Rep. Tom Craddick’s back” as well as the entire legislature.

    If anyone doubts what I’m saying I have evidence and proof. In NY troopers now patrol in SUVs so they can look down into cars. In Tenn. they use big rigs. So these states know that the anti-texting law doesn’t stop texting. Period!

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