Texas governor OKs ban but targets local laws

The push for a texting ban in Texas finally has ended -- but the debate over distracted driving regulation in the Lone Star State seems sure to continue. Gov. Greg Abbott, left, signed the texting ban into law June 6, after some last-minute fears that he might not. The governor said, however, that he would push for special-session legislation pre-empting stronger local laws, primarily those that restrict use of handheld cell phones. "We don't need a patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas," Abbott said. Almost all communities in Texas have some form of … [Read more...]

Craddick back, seeking Texas texting law

Citing the "most fundamental purpose of protecting lives," state Rep. Tom Craddick has refiled his texting & driving legislation in Texas. Craddick makes his fourth run at a distracted driving law in the state, whose lawmakers have proved unusually resistant despite widespread ordinances at the local level. "All Texans are feeling the pain of damage, injury or loss of life and are calling for action by the Texas Legislature to enact legislation that will prevent these irresponsible crashes, unnecessary tragedies, preventable injuries, and needless deaths," Craddick wrote upon filing his … [Read more...]

Alaska rethinks texting & driving law

Alaska is reining in its texting & driving law to encourage police to actually enforce it. Following the lead of Anchorage, the state's largest city, the Legislature approved and sent to the governor a plan to make an electronic device offense a traffic violation instead of a class A misdemeanor, if no injury or death occurs. Alaska's distracted driving offenses currently range from class A misdemeanors (simple texting) to class A felonies (causing a death) with offenders subject to jury trials. Fines under the new scheme would top out at $500. A spokesman for state Sen. Kevin … [Read more...]

New distracted driving laws in Miss., N.H.

Texting while driving is now illegal in Mississippi, while New Hampshire motorists will have to have to put down their wireless devices or face a ticket. Mississippi is a latecomer to the texting & driving issue, being the 45th state to ban the distracted driving practice. Gov. Phil Bryant approved the law in mid-March. Mississippi drivers caught texting while behind the wheel are subject to fines beginning at $25, but they go up to $100 in summer 2016. The originating legislation -- House Bill 389 — also outlaws social media use by drivers, but does not address cell phone use. In an … [Read more...]

Signing off on Oklahoma texting law

Gov. Mary Fallin signs Oklahoma's texting & driving legislation into law May 5. Members of the families of state Troopers Nicholas Dees and Keith Burch stood by her side. Dees was killed in late January in a roadway incident officials linked to a distracted driver; Burch was seriously injured and could not attend due to his condition. The bill was named after the lawmen. Dees' father, a retired trooper, attended the signing ceremony along with the slain trooper's widow. Burch was represented by his wife. Oklahoma's new texting law goes into effect Nov. 1 with $100 fines. Read more about … [Read more...]