Texas: Cell phone laws, legislation

Last updated: November 19, 2014
Texas distracted driving news: To no one’s surprise, state Rep. Tom Craddick has refiled texting & driving legislation for 2015. Craddick said in mid-September that he’ll make a third attempt to outlaw text messaging by Texas’ adult drivers. His texting bill of 2013 died in a Senate committee, which left Texas without a comprehensive texting law for at least two years. The governor vetoed the 2011 measure and the governor-elect has stated opposition to further distracted driving legislation.

texas state flag - no texting law stateCraddick pointed to the creation of a “patchwork of local ordinances that confuses drivers. During this upcoming 84th legislative session, it is time that we changed that and give our Texas drivers safer roads to travel on and prevent the loss of life — that is why I filed HB 80 today.”

San Antonio has banned handheld cell phone use by drivers, effective Jan. 1. Fine of $200 after a 30-day grace period. Councilman Mike Gallagher said he proposed the ban because police told him distracted driving is now “the major cause of accidents” in the city.

Austin’s distracted driving laws expand to almost all uses of handheld cell phones come Jan. 1. The law also applies to bicyclists. Police say a monthlong warning period will lead up to the start of ticket writing Feb. 1. The city has mailed out informational pamphlets and is setting up roadside signs advising of the change to Austin’s distracted driving law.

Texas distracted driving prohibitions:

  • Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices.
  • Learners permit holders are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving.
  • School bus operators prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present.
  • Drivers prohibited from using handheld devices in school crossing zones.
  • Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Amarillo, Galveston, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Missouri City, the Canyon and Stephenville are among the two dozen Texas cities that have enacted local distracted driving laws.

Read the Texas statutes.

New HandsFreeInfo feature: Distracted driving research page.

Distracted driving legislation (2015)
House Bill 80: Would prohibit text messaging with handheld wireless communications devices. Includes email and instant messaging. Entry of phone numbers and hands-free texting OK. Fines: $25 to $99 (first offense), then $100 to $200. No points. aka Alex Brown Memorial Act. (Craddick)

Distracted driving notes (2014):
The change in the governor’s office probably won’t mean a change in Texas’ distracted driving laws. Attorney General Greg Abbott was elected in November to replace Gov. Rick Perry — and shares his disdain for efforts to “micromanage” electronic communications device use by the state’s adult drivers. Abbott’s reps reiterated in September that he “supports laws already in place that prohibit cell phone use by young drivers and in school zones” but doesn’t want an expansion of Texas distracted driving laws.

State Rep. Tom Craddick’s House Bill 80 of 2015 is another in a series of legislation in memory of Alex Brown, a high school student who died while texting & driving in 2010.

San Antonio Councilman Mike Gallagher said he pushed through a local handheld ban because “distracted driving is actually causing more accidents than driving while intoxicated, so we’ve got to do something about this.” The ban was approved Nov. 6 and goes into effect Jan. 1. Read the San Antonio cell phone legislation.

Cibolo is exploring a ban on use of handheld cell phones while driving in city limits. The proposal is up for discussion, but not a vote, as of mid-October. The ordinance would require drivers to keep one hand on the wheel at all times. Fines would range from $25 to $250. The city is near San Antonio, which plans to upgrade its distracted driving law (below).

Under Austin’s upcoming handheld cell phone law, motorists will be able to use their electronic devices when the vehicle is completely stopped. (The original plan barred use at stop lights and red lights but it was revised before the late August vote to enact the new law.) The unanimous City Council vote of Aug. 28 followed the recommendations of a study group, which argued that police find it difficult to determine if drivers are texting — which is against current local law — or dialing a phone number, which is not. “Austin is commonly cited as one of the most congested cities, and we are taking steps to reduce crashes and the number of injuries,” said Assistant Police Chief Brian Manley, a member of the study group.

In Denton, a ban on texting while driving went into effect May 20 with a fine of $200 but a monthlong warning period. The City Council approved the new local law May 6. The council was encouraged to extend the effort to handheld cell phones, but did not. As a result, one traffic safety panel member resigned on the spot, saying the Denton council showed “no fortitude in dealing with this deadly problem.”

The city of Pecos has enacted a texting & driving ordinance. The City Council approved the local text messaging law in late February. The fine tops out at $200. “It’s become almost crazy out there with … all kinds of people texting and driving,” one council member said at a Jan. 23 meeting. The city of Farmers Branch approved its ban in late March.

Texas’ top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Greg Abbott, says he isn’t interested in a law that would “micromanage adult driving behavior.” He’s the heavy favorite to win the 2014 race for governor. His opponent, Wendy Davis, tried to push through a texting bill while in the Senate.

In 2013, Austin police wrote 366 tickets for texting & driving.

The city of Farmers Branch’s ban on texting & driving goes into full effect in early summer, with warnings being handed out until then. The ordinance also bars use of the Internet and social media apps.

Corpus Christi’s new ban on texting and handheld cell phone use yielded 161 tickets in the first month of enforcement, police said in mid-December. Offenders paid fines up to $500 with traffic school required. The ordinance, which includes talking, texting and GPS use of handheld devices, was approved by the City Council on Oct. 8. A monthlong warning period followed.

Amarillo police wrote about 180 tickets for handheld communications devices while driving in the first 16 months of its ordinance, they said in early February. Fines for Amarillo distracted driving violations are up to $200. Amarillo’s mayor has said he wasn’t unhappy that the statewide texting bill failed, because it would have overwritten the more comprehensive local distracted driving law.

2013 distracted driving notes:
Grand Prairie has adopted a texting & driving ban, with fines up to $200. The ordinance, which went into effect Sept. 1, effectively bans all uses of handheld mobile phones by drivers except for making phone calls.

“When the state did not pass such a law in the last session, we felt it important for the safety of our streets and drivers to move forward with such a law in Grand Prairie,” said Chief of Police Steve Dye.

The TxDOT links distracted driving to 90,378 crashes in 2012. Fatalities numbered 453, with serious injuries put at 18,468.

State Rep. Tom Craddick says he’ll try again with distracted driving legislation in 2015 if he is re-elected. “My legislative agenda includes passing a statewide texting while driving law to make our roads safer for drivers and all Texans,” the Republican said in announcing his re-election bid. His opponent, a Libertarian, charges Craddick’s efforts to ban texting are an “overreach.” The incumbent, a conservative, replied: “It’s my right to go on a highway and have a safe ride.” The primary is in March 2014 and the election is in November.

Corpus Christi’s City Council approved a handheld cell phone ban Oct. 8. The ordinance went into effect immediately, but a 30-day waiting period ran through early November. Police are empowered to stop and cite offenders. The ordinance, which includes talking, texting and GPS use of handheld devices, cleared the first council vote Sept. 24. Fines top out at $500 but most are paying $300. “This is not something we’re doing to try and make money; we’re doing it to save lives,” one council member said.

The Grand Prairie area school system cheered the city’s new texting ban, noting that two buses had been hit by texting drivers. Signs warning of the law are going up at four local high schools.

Lubbock’s City Council was nearing a vote on a texting while driving ordinance, but Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson abruptly withdrew her proposal June 13, saying she needed to “clean up” language in the draft. The move came after public comments. Fines would be up to $200. Gibson and two councilmen are pushing for the Lubbock texting law.

Statewide, drivers under the age of 18 are limited to one passenger under age 21 under new rules that took effect Sept. 1. Teens also will be prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. in most cases. Like the majority of states, Texas prohibits drivers under age 18 from using wireless communications devices.

The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee refused to bring state Rep. Tom Craddick’s House Bill 63 to a vote, effectively killing the plan for a statewide texting & driving law. The chairman, Sen. Robert Nichols, said May 24 that the legislation faced a “likely veto” from the governor, making a vote a waste of time. Gov. Rick Perry vetoed Craddick’s plan in 2011.

Craddick’s proposed texting ban won final approval by the full House on April 18. That vote was 97-45. Prior to the vote, a spokesman for Gov. Perry restated Perry’s opposition to a texting law, telling the AP, “The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement.”

Craddick said the death of his 2013 texting & driving bill “is very disappointing, not just for me but for the state,” Craddick said. “A lot of groups across the state, and even AT&T and other phone companies, they all endorsed it, and so did cities — they all felt that a statewide ban was necessary.”

Craddick, R-Midland, says more legislators were eager to co-sponsor the bill than two years ago, when his texting bill was vetoed by Perry. “I’ve had more people walk up to me and say, ‘Can I sign your bill? Can I co-sponsor your bill?’ ”

House Bill 63 and Senate Bill 28 were named in memory of Alex Brown, a high school student who died while texting & driving in 2010.

Amarillo’s mayor said he wasn’t unhappy that the texting bill failed, because it would have overwritten the local law. “Our ordinance is more enforceable and more comprehensive,” Mayor Paul Harpole said. El Paso would have kept its ordinance because a local rep amended the texting bill to ensure it wouldn’t supersede his city’s law.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she’ll push for a local ordinance banning text messaging while driving if the state Legislature again fails in its efforts to get a statewide texting law. The mayor used the occasion of Distracted Driving Awareness month to launch the program “It Can Wait, Houston,” backed by a city task force. “I refuse to put my life and the lives of others at risk,” Parker said at a press event April 2. Rapper Bun B of UGK fame was on hand to lend some “street cred.” Texting & driving is like “Russian roulette,” said Bun B, who made a PSA video with the mayor. Read a draft of the Houston texting ordinance (PDF).

Edinburg has erected signs notifying drivers of the city’s ban on texting while behind the wheel. Tickets up to $500. The ordinance, which went into effect late last year, came at the urging of local high school students who took a no-texting pledge. Police have issued “dozens” of tickets, they said in late March 2013.

A flurry of amendments were considered in the House during the three hours of debate on HB 63 on April 17, with five of the 11 amendments adopted. A proposal to downgrade the text messaging ban to secondary enforcement was narrowly defeated. The amendment’s author expressed fears of racial profiling in traffic stops made under the law.

Craddick calls HB 63 “the big bipartisan bill of the session.”

Several distracted driving measures received a public hearing before the House Transportation Committee in late February. Survivors and family members stricken by distracted driving deaths testified, including Jennifer Zamora Jamison, who lost her husband in a texting crash. She told lawmakers: “It’s an epidemic. It’s arrogance. It’s ignorance. It’s negligence.”

The public hearing for the texting bill HB 63 brought forward the usual concerns about personal freedom, the effectiveness of distracted driving laws, and the increased dangers of racial-profiling traffic stops. “You’re infringing on my rights, to be truthful, when you’re texting and driving, on my right to be safe on the road,” sponsor Rep. Tom Craddick responded Feb. 26.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is conducting an extensive study on the use of cell phones by Texas drivers, and other forms of distracted driving. The survey of about 3,000 drivers is being funded by the the United Services Automobile Association (USAA). Study leader Katie Womack focus groups will also be conducted “to explain in greater detail the thought processes and behavior motivations underlying texting, cell phone use, and other distractions while driving.”

A Round Rock city councilman has proposed “texting zones,” in which motorists could pull over and use their handheld electronic devices such as smartphones. Councilman John Moman reportedly is consulting with the DOT to see if the idea could be funded. Round Rock is about 15 miles north of Austin, which has its own distracted driving law.

Several bills filed for the 2013 legislative session seek to allow drivers stopped by police to display their insurance information on their mobile phones.

2013 distracted driving legislation (dead):
House Bill 63: Would prohibit text messaging with handheld wireless communications devices. Entry of phone numbers and hands-free texting OK. Favorable report by Transportation Committee (6-1 vote) on March 5, following public hearing of Feb. 26. Amended and approved by the House in a 98-47 vote taken April 17. Final House approval April 18 (97-45 vote). Latest legislative action: “Left pending” in the Senate Transportation Committee as of May 24. Dead. (Craddick)

HB 347: Would ban use of handheld wireless communications devices while driving through school crossing zones and on any school property. Public hearing Feb. 26. Approved by the Transportation Committee in a unanimous vote of March 19. (Pitts)

HB 27: Would outlaw text messaging for all drivers whose vehicles are in motion. Fines at least $2. Provides for increased penalties of up to $400 if the driver is in a school zone. “No action taken in committee” after public hearing Feb. 26. (Fischer)

HB 41: Bars drivers from using a wireless communication device unless vehicle is in park. Hands-free operation allowed. Fines from $25 to $100 unless violation is in a school zone, in which case penalties run from $125-200. “Left pending in committee” after public hearing Feb. 26. (Menendez)

HB 69: Would ban text messaging on wireless communications devices. Texting OK if voice-controlled and display is on dashboard or similar. Also known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act. (Lucio)

HB 108: Would ban text messaging on handheld devices. Entry of phone numbers and hands-free texting allowed. (Harless)

Senate Bill 28: Would prohibit drivers using a handheld wireless device to read, write, or send text messages. (Zaffirini)

2012 distracted driving notes:
Of the state’s 3,048 traffic fatalities in 2011, distracted driving ranks third on the list of causes. In 2012, about 2,545 fatalities had been logged as of November, the Texas Department of Transportation said in its latest traffic safety report.

Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, says his House Bill 63 for the 2013 session “will provide a uniform statewide approach to curb this unsafe practice and will go a long way in helping educate drivers on the dangers posed by texting while driving and save lives.”

Craddick’s HB 243 (later HB 242) of 2011 was the texting & driving plan vetoed by the governor.

“It is time for Texas to join the other 39 states and the District of Columbia to ban this dangerous behavior for all drivers,” Craddick said Nov. 12 upon prefiling the texting legislation for the 2013 session. “The Texas Legislature has a responsibility to give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to make our roadways safer.”

The full Legislature didn’t meet in 2012 and returned Jan. 8, 2013. Texas is one of 11 states without a ban on text messaging by all drivers.

TxDOT issued a safety advisory about work zones on more than 100 miles of I-35. “We just need to put our cell phones down, buckle our seat belts and focus on driving safely,” said John Barton, TxDOT’s deputy executive director, in late December.

Fort Worth’s Police Department has barred its officers from most uses of dashboard computers while driving. The policy of November 2012 followed a local TV report that distracted driving led to 15 police car crashes over the past three years.

Meanwhile, Houston-area police departments are writing few citations under their local distracted driving laws, a local TV report said. “Laws have to be enforced for it to work,” said State Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston-area lawmaker who supports a statewide ban on text messaging. El Paso, which has a handheld cell phone law, is an exception, handing out 15,000 tickets in under two years, KRPC said in its report on slack enforcement of local texting laws.

Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson says the city is looking into a distracted driving ordinance.

Amarillo’s ban on texting and handheld cell phone use by drivers was approved Sept. 18, 2012, and went into effect in October. Drivers are barred from using cell phones without hands-free accessories, GPS systems, video games and similar portable electronic devices. Fines are up to $200 for the non-moving traffic offense. Final approval ended a long series of debates and preliminary votes on the distracted driving law. “This is getting ridiculous,” one traffic commissioner said of the protracted deliberations. “We’re really wasting a lot of people’s time.” Amarillo previously outlawed texting by drivers in school districts (see 2011 item below).

Amarillo city councilman Brian Eades said just before the 4-1 hands-free vote: “We (all) see people texting through green lights, we see people swerving through lanes, driving 70 while texting,” city councilman Brian Eades told the City Council before the vote. Earlier, the Amarillo Star editorialized against the pending distracted driving ordinance: “It hasn’t yet been determined that most auto accidents are caused by cellphone use — let alone those accidents that cause serious injury.”

The city of Magnolia reports that auto crashes are down by more than half in the year since it adopted a ban on texting and driving. Police have blamed several crashes on texting. They issued about 35 citations in the 2011 ordinance’s first year. “I have heard nothing but positive feedback from residents,” Magnolia’s mayor said in September 2012.

The Canyon City Commission voted May 7 to ban text messaging while driving. The law goes into effect Aug. 1, with fines up to $200. A public information campaign is leading up to the launch of the local distracted driving law.

San Antonio’s school district fired a school bus driver in January after he was caught texting while transporting students. Texting and driving is illegal in the city.

El Paso police wrote more than 10,850 tickets for use of handheld cell phones in the second year of that city’s ban on handheld cell phone use while driving (April 1, 2011-March 31, 2012). That’s up from 7,209 in the law’s first year.

2011 distracted driving notes:
The Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t singling out distracted driving legislation for his vetoes. He killed another 22 bills June 17, 2011, with a personal best (or worst) of 83 bills vetoed back in 2000.

The text messaging bill he vetoed (HB 242) was given final legislative approval by the Senate and House in the late hours of May 29. The governor said people who supported the safety legislation should instead “work with state and local leaders to educate the public of these dangers.”

Perry called the distracted driving legislation a “government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.” That veto came June 17, 2011. The law would have taken effect Sept. 1, 2011.

“The keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education,” Perry said in his veto statement. He was campaigning for president at the time, wooing voters on the right.

Nacogdoches is the latest city in Texas to prohibit electronic messaging while driving. The ordinance should take effect in November, city officials said. Fines will top out at $500. The City Council vote came Oct. 18.

Odessa’s City Council rejected a proposed ban on texting while driving. There was no vote; no council member would second the motion to approve. The move reportedly didn’t sit well with citizens attending the meeting. One supporter of the ordinance, a former council member, was so upset he was escorted from the room by security.

Arlington’s City Council voted to ban text messaging while driving, in a 4-3 vote on Aug. 15, 2011. The proposed distracted driving ordinance is expected to win the final vote, expected in September. Fines would be $200.

Amarillo’s ban on use of cell phones while driving in school zones is now in effect. The law went into effect Aug. 22, at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. First-time offenders are looking at a hit of $158, after fines and fees.

Kilgore’s City Council deadlocked on a plan to ban text messaging and handheld cell phone use while driving on July 26. The mayor then cast the deciding vote, killing the proposed ordinance. “Sure wish the state would have done something,” said the mayor, Ronnie Spradlin.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck is pushing for a municipal ban on text messaging while driving, as well as related behaviors such as playing computer games on smartphones. Handheld cell phones could be in the mix as well. “Distracted driving is a dangerous thing, just like driving while intoxicated,” Cluck said after the governor vetoed a statewide texting ban. The City Council is expected to take up the matter in August. A similar bid for an Arlington distracted driving law failed a year ago. “It’s going to make some people upset,” the mayor conceded.

Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, authored state legislation that would have banned texting while driving, but the vetoed House Bill 242 wasn’t it. The original measure stalled, and so the ban was tacked on to another, unrelated Craddick bill (via amendment) in the Legislature’s final days.

Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, found an alternate route for the text messaging and driving ban envisioned in her stalled SB 46. She amended the wording onto an unrelated bill, HB 242, which then passed the Senate. Zaffirini’s maneuver had bipartisan support in a May 25 vote. “No text message or e-mail is important enough to risk injury or death on the road,” she said. “(The life saved) could be someone you love dearly.” The bill cleared the Legislature in the session’s final hours (May 29) and was sent to the governor.

Both the Austin and San Antonio police departments sent representatives to testify May 16 in support of House Bill 243, which was under consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. Several victims of distracted driving testified as well.

“A lot of people are being killed because of texting,” says Rep. Tom Craddick, the conservative author of HB 243. “It’s a function of safety and saving people’s lives. That’s what it’s all about.”

Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, succeeded April 7 in having HB 243 amended to prohibit only the typing and sending of text messages, not the reading of incoming texts. “Just looking down briefly at your phone — I don’t want to be pulled over as a criminal,” Taylor said. Craddick and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, tried but failed to derail the amendment, with Lucio noting that police would have to determine whether a driver was reading or typing — an “administrative nightmare.”

Craddick collapsed while testifying on his HB 243 before the House Committee on Transportation. He apparently had a bad reaction to medicine for an infected tooth. The March 9 hearing was postponed.

Text messaging and cell phone use while driving are bigger problems than five years ago, Texas motorists say. 85 of drivers interviewed said text messaging was worse, while 80 percent agreed that cell phone use had become a bigger problem than a half decade ago. (The Texas Transportation Institute interviewed 1,167 motorists at Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Offices in fall 2010.) Supporters of a ban on handheld cell phone use while driving outnumber opponents by a two-to-one margin. Aggressive driving ranked with distracted driving as a danger cited by the drivers. (View a video about the Texas driver safety survey.)

El Paso’s ban on texting and talking on a cell phone while driving has yielded more than 6,435 tickets as of March 11, as the law’s first anniversary approaches. The City Council approved the ban on March 9, 2010, but ticketing did not begin until April 1. Hands-free cell phones OK. Fines typically $114 but can run up to $500. El Paso already outlawed use of handheld cell phones in school zones.

The city of McAllen banned text messaging while driving and related Internet activity. Violations of the new McAllen ordinance could bring fines of as much as $200. The Jan. 24, 2011, vote by city commissioners was unanimous.

Alvin has just began enforcing its ban on texting and use of cell phones while driving through school zones. The ordinance was approved several years ago, but enforcement dragged out as the city awaited the posting of warning signs at schools.

2011 distracted driving legislation (dead):
HB 242: Wording that would ban texting while driving was added to this unrelated bill via a Senate amendment of May 25. The amended bill would prohibit a driver from reading, writing or sending a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. HB 242, which concerns firearms use by retired peace officers, was sponsored by Rep. Tom Craddick, whose HB 243 sought to ban text messaging while driving. HB 243 was approved in the House, but failed to make it through committee in the Senate. Sen. Judith Zaffirini added the texting amendment to HB 242, which essentially revives her SB 46 (below). The amendment was approved in a 19-10 vote on May 25. Latest legislative action: HB 242 was approved by the Senate (28-3) and House (80-61) in late-night votes May 29 and then transmitted to the governor. Vetoed by the governor June 17. Dead. (Craddick)

House Bill 243: Text messaging outlawed for all drivers of motor vehicles. Includes IMs and email. Amended before the first House vote to remove drivers’ reading of text messages as a prohibited activity. Fines: Up to $200. Approved by the House in a first-reading vote (124-16) taken April 7. Latest legislative action: Final OK from the House in a 107-16 vote on April 8. Sent to the Senate on April 11 and under consideration in the Transportation Committee. “Left pending in committee” after public hearing of May 16. Dead. (Craddick)

HB 37: Prohibits drivers from using a wireless communication device unless vehicle is in park. Hands-free operation allowed. Fines from $20 to $100 unless violation is in a school zone, in which case penalties run from $125-200. “Left pending” in Transportation Committee. Dead. (Menendez)

HB 93: Would outlaw reading, writing and sending of text messages by all drivers. Hands-free texting OK. Fines: $100 then $150 (second violation) and then $200. For injury crashes, a second-degree felony applies; third degree if death results. “No action taken” in Transportation Committee. Dead. (Cook)

HB 103: Would prohibit drivers from using of wireless communication devices to read, write, or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. Provides for increased penalties of up to $400 if the driver is in a school zone. “No action taken” in Transportation Committee. Dead. (Martinez Fischer)

HB 105: Would outlaw text messaging while driving in Texas unless vehicle is stopped. Fine $200. (Brown)

HB 288: Would extend the texting ban on drivers of passenger buses to include various commercial forms of transport such as vehicles owned by facilities for health care, disabled riders or the elderly.

HB 676: Would prevent drivers from using handheld wireless communications devices while stopped for a school bus that has passengers boarding or exiting. Hands-free OK. (Lucio)

Texas Senate Bill 46: Would prohibit drivers from using wireless communication devices to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. Includes email. See HB 242, above. (Zaffirini)

SB 119: Seeks to outlaw use of handheld wireless devices to read, send or compose text messages while driving in Texas, unless the vehicle is stopped. “Left pending” in Transportation Committee. (Uresti)

SB 138: Seeks to ban use of handheld wireless devices unless a hands-free attachment is employed. “Left pending in committee.” (Wentworth)

2010 distracted driving notes:
Use of cell phones while driving played a part in 3,409 crashes in 2010, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Fatalities linked to talking & driving numbered 46.

San Antonio’s ban on texting and driving became law Oct. 15, 2010, with a 90-day warning period that ended in mid-January 2011. The City Council gave final approval to the distracted driving ordinance on Oct. 7. Fines of up to $200. Councilman Phil Cortez pushed through the ban. Basically, drivers are permitted to make phone calls with wireless handheld devices, but nothing else. The University of Texas at San Antonio plans to enforce the city law on campus as well.

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, prefiled SB 119 for the 2011 legislative session, seeking a ban on text messaging and driving while vehicles are in motion.

Missouri City’s ban on texting while driving went into effect June 1, 2010. Law applies when vehicle is stopped. Fines up to $500. The city posted traffic signs stating: “No Texts Emails or Apps While Driving.”

College Station’s City Council considered a ban on texting and driving, but decided to see what emerged from the 2011 legislative session.

Stephenville has banned text messaging and use of handheld cell phones while driving. The City Council considered a plan to ban all cell phone use by motorists, but rejected it during the April 6 voting. Fines will be up to $200.

Galveston has banned text messaging while driving within city limits. Fines up to $500. The City Council voted to outlaw texting for motorists on Jan. 14 and the ban went into effect immediately.

League City’s plan to ban texting and handheld cell phone use while driving has been put on hold. The city attorney cited “legal issues.”

Arlington’s City Council refused to consider a ban on text messaging while driving. (Update above, in 2011 notes.)

2009 Texas legislation:
Texas House Bill 55: Outlaws use of handheld devices in school crossing zones. Would prohibit cell phone use by passenger bus drivers transporting minors unless the bus is stopped (minor wording change). Legislature gave final approval on May 29 and the governor signed it into law on June 19. The law became effective Sept. 1, 2009.

Texas House Bill 339: Prohibits drivers under the age of 17 with restricted licenses from using wireless communications devices, including cell phones and text messaging devices. Bill addresses numerous driver education issues in Texas. Approved by the House on May 6, 2009, and by the Senate on May 25. Legislature gave final approval on May 29 and the governor signed it into law on June 19. Law became effective Sept. 1, 2009.

Texas House Bill 662: Would outlaw the use of cell phones by drivers under the age of 18 unless a hands-free accessory is engaged. On Approved by the full Texas House on May 15 and sent to the Senate. Left in committee.

Texas Senate Bill 1077: Companion bill to HB 339 (above) has been approved in the Senate and by the Transportation Committee in the House (May 15).

Texas House Bill 1158: Would make fines at least double the minimum for infractions committed while driving and using a handheld cell phone. “Left pending in committee.”

Texas Senate Bill 582: Would prohibit drivers from using cell phones unless a hands-free accessory is engaged. Also would ban bus drivers from using wireless communication devices with a minor passenger onboard. “In committee” since Feb. 23.

Texas House Bill 1267: Would add text messaging to cell phone prohibitions on bus drivers. Also HB 1179. Both bills “left pending in committee.”

Texas Senate Bill 51: The legislation from state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would ban reading, writing and sending of text messages while operating a motor vehicle. It also would prohibit use of a wireless communication device for school bus drivers when a minor is present, except in emergencies. “In committee” since Feb. 10.

Texas House Bill 738: Would create an inattentive driving adjunct to existing laws that doubles fines for other traffic offenses. Cites a variety of behaviors such as texting, reading, writing, personal grooming, interacting with a passenger or pet. “Left pending in committee.”

Texas House Bill 758: Would prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones or texting while minors are aboard. “Left pending in committee.”

Texas House Bill 1649: Would ban drivers under the age of 18 from using wireless communication devices in the first six months of licensing, regardless of whether a hands-free device is attached. Also applies to motorcycle or moped drivers under the age of 17. “In committee”

Texas House Bill 220: Would ban use of handheld wireless devices for all drivers and use of all wireless devices for school bus drivers. “Left pending in committee.”

Texas House Bill 219: Would outlaw use of cell phones at school crossings. “Left pending in committee.”

More Texas legislation notes:
The Austin City Council approved a ban on texting while driving on Oct. 22, 2009, and then broadened it Dec. 17 to include other mobile devices, Internet surfing and use of all iPhone applications. Fines could be as high as $500. The law takes effect Jan. 1 and there will be a one-month warning period.

The city of Burnet has outlawed use of cell phones and texting devices in school zones. Fines will be $200. The Burnet City Council approved the ban on Oct. 27, 2009.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, author of a handheld cell phone bill, says the House Transportation Committee simply isn’t moving these bills through. “I have tremendous amount of respect for Chairman Joe Pickett,” Martinez Fischer said. “But this doesn’t seem to be a priority in his committee.” Pickett responded that his committee was unable to resolve the overall issue of how to draw the line with distracted driving, a common position adopted by opponents of cell phone-driving bills. More accidents related to wireless devices could help the bills’ chances in 2011, Pickett told amarillo.com

The House aired the legislative debate over text messaging and cell phoning while driving on March 10, 2009. “People, I think, are watching us,” said HB 55 sponsor Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

“We’re trying to find the right balance between public safety and, sort of, intrusion into civil liberties,” Branch told the House Committee on Transportation. The committee aboved Rep. Branch’s bill banning drivers from using cell phones in school zones.

Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr., D-Corpus Christi, says of his HB 662: “This legislation will help limit distractions and keep teen drivers focused on the road. Teenagers already have enough on their minds as it is.”

“The communications companies have really come out strongly against my (handheld cell phone) bills in the past,” said Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, who authored HB 1649.

The Texas ACLU opposes laws restricting use of cell phones and texting devices: “That’s more of a public education issue,” its policy director said. “There’s always going to be something that’s distracting drivers.”

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had planned to reintroduce in the 2009 session his bill that would require hands-free devices for drivers using cell phones. His bill passed the transportation committee in 2008 after testimony from a man whose wife was killed in an crash she caused while using a cell phone.

“It is probably going to take the whole Senate listening to that kind of testimony before we get a bill passed,” he told the Dallas Morning News.

Hollywood Park (San Antonio area) tabled a handheld cell phone ban on Feb. 17, 2009, saying: “Let the state make the decision.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety began tracking cell phone-related traffic accidents in 2000.

The Dallas council approved installing cellphone-ban warning signs throughout Dallas’ 651 school zones when it OK’d the prohibition in February 2008. Violators could be fined $200.

About two-thirds of Texas teenagers surveyed said they have talked on a cell phone while driving in the past six months, according to the state Transportation Institute. More than half said they had read or sent text messages while driving. A 2007 study said cell phone use was among the primary causes of fatal car crashes among teens.

Texas was one of the states hit with periodic email hoaxes about nonexistent cell phone driving laws.

Comments

  1. Angela Chandler says:

    Griffin Jones, October 19, 2009
    How many more will we allow?

    Texas should be the example to which all other states look to. We have higher standards yet more is over looked.

    It’s hard to be Texas proud when we continue to embarrass ourselves. Born here, raised here and am getting more embarrassed everyday.

    Angela

  2. Yeah lets make more laws that take more freedoms aways from americans. Thats inteligent, We want to “protect” everyone with laws but if we would quit being so worried about how everyone else acts and start looking at home we would’nt need any of these laws that we keep inventing. Personally I think for saftey reasons bluetooth devices are a very good thing, however we’ve already took the ” land of the free” and turned it into the next closest thing to cummunism that you can get without actually causing communism.

  3. I would also like to add with the government we all Know its all about the money . So if the can find away to enforce such laws they will implement them sooner or later. I mean we have kids that go to school and dont have books to bring home but the state has a god awful surplus of money. More than most of the other states in the u.s. pretty rediculous if you asked me. But it goes to show you. The state don’t care as long as the get theirs.

  4. i know that it may seem like a small law but that is what we needed along time ago that will save a countless number of lives i know a place that can help you get up to speed it bftsync.com they heled me to be ready they will help you also

  5. Brad P. Miller says:

    Regarding Texas HB 55 – Once again our legislators (and the public) have fallen short on this bill. The bill targets a “school crossing zone” and not a school zone. They are not the same thing. A crossing zone is a crosswalk and delineated as such. If the intent of the bill was to restrict cell phone usage for an entire school zone, they missed the boat.

  6. Steven Jackson says:

    How much will it cost the Cities that population 50,000 plus to put signs up in school zones?

  7. T Westman says:

    Here Here! I agree let’s put more laws in place to protect the idiots who are too stupid to protect themselves. For those of you that don’t recognize it that was “sarcasam”
    I ask you who is going to protect us from our ledgislators? What makes them think that they can govern stupidity in the first place? Next thing you know every american houshold will have a personal government agent assigned to them to tuck them nightly to make sure they didn’t leave the stove on or the doors unlocked and to make certain we aren’t using our hair dryers while sleeping !

  8. What happened to parents raising their kids? We don’t need the state trying to do it. Common sense goes further than passing more laws to bring more $$$ to the state.

  9. …And yet another civil liberty is taken away because of those too stupid to handle themselves responsibly, thanks a lot guys.

  10. I’m amazed at how the rednecks come out of the woodwork when they feel their “rights” are being taken away! Driving is not a right or a freedom that is given because you are an American or even a Texan! It’s a huge responsibility! It comes with restrictions so that we can ALL be as safe as possible.
    I remember as a lil bitty girl riding standing in the front seat next to my Mama and her having to try to catch me if she had to stop fast. I’m very grateful that when I had my children there were car seats and seat belts. A lot of people fought that too but it is for the best and has saved countless lives.
    I certainly want legislation to help protect my kids and grandkids and those that encounter them on the road, as well as myself! No one is taking anything away that we are owed, just trying to keep us safe from ourselves and each other!!

  11. I do not like all the Gov. control either, but there is not much of a difference with this bill than the dui law.
    I do not like to talk on the phone while driving anyways. When I do and finally get off the phone I find myself not remembering the last few miles or so. Thats dangerous. Very dangerous. And I am sure this happens to everone too. Your concentration on driving goes down while on the phone.

  12. This is just a fundraiser law. People are going to do it anyway as there will be little enforcement and if you are caught its just a small fine. How are speed limits working for you?

  13. “…And yet another civil liberty is taken away because of those too stupid to handle themselves responsibly, thanks a lot guys”

    “What makes them think that they can govern stupidity in the first place?”

    A: Driving your car isn’t a civil libertiy, its a privilege. If the government doesn’t like how you handle your privilege, they can revoke it or give you a fine because you abused the privilege.

    B: The law applies to the stupid citizens because, if everyone was a genius and knew their duties in society, there wouldn’t be any laws in the first place. Can you think of a law that was designed for some reason OTHER THAN protecting society from stupid people? Neither can I.

  14. I drive the freeway everyday with you morons that choose to text and bs on the cell phone while driving in bumper to bumper traffic. Who gives you the dam right to put my life in danger by talking or texting on your cell phone. Personally, I feel Texas should adopt a law like the state of Utah did, you can view it here, http://handsfreeinfo.com/utah_text_messaging_death

  15. i think the ban with cell phones use and texting is great becaue it keeps us some what safe my mother lost her baby to a guy that was one a cell phone well that just what i think

  16. Is this law in effect 24 hours a day or just during school hours?

  17. As a non resident of Texas, my opinion is this! I dont care what your laws are, just make up your mind and let people know. I come here 6-7 times a year and would certainly not like getting any tickets. I have been to several states and not one has a sign will cell phone restrictions posted in airports or rental car locations. Unless we are the people you would like to target! It is dangerous to use a phone while driving but people have to remember they are still driving and that needs to be the priority! Pull your head out! Texas is not alone in this battle.

  18. I can’t believe that people are complaining about this law! Is it really so important to be on your cell phone so much that you must put other people’s safety at risk? I don’t think this law is unfair. There are already laws that restrict behavior that puts other people at risk, this is just another one. If you really think that you can be a safe driver while on your cell phone, you are wrong wrong wrong.

  19. PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE, ban cell phone use and texting without hands free all over the entire USA and state of Texas. There are too many people talking on cell phones while driving and it is a VERY BIG AND DANGEROUS PROBLEM ! There are too many accidents about to happen, and it can all be prevented with passing the law to BAN CELL PHONE USE WITHOUT SPEAKER PHONE OR HANDS FREE DEVISE!

  20. John the proud Redneck says:

    I got yelled at today by a bunch of college KIDs because I got fired up when they all raised there hands so proudly to say they text while driving. For all you motorcycle riders out there, you can relate, when I say that drivers doin’ everythin’ but drivin’ can and do kill. A car is not a toy to be fooled with! So when you see a college sticker stay back and keep aware. This is truly the generation zero. And if you’re not proud to be a Texan then leave!

  21. Cathy Alexander says:

    I am all for no cell phone use in cars. Period.

    Last week I was on the road. A woman cut me off entering
    from the right. She crossed three lanes of traffic just missing
    me and two other cars. She then gives me a dirty look and
    toots her horn, shaking her fist.

    Where do these people get their sense of entitlement? She
    should have gotten ticked at the lease, a big fine and had her
    drivers license revoked.

  22. Glenn T. Van Dusen says:

    I don’t think that the Texas Legislature has gone far enough to outlaw the use of handheld wireless phones while driving in the state of Texas.

    Texas Senate Bill 582 and House Bill 220 would be great if passed. How many times has the average, law-abiding citizen driving the freeways of Texas witnessed a driver in another vehicle talking or texting on their phone, totally oblivious to the traffic conditions around them. These are accidents waiting to happen or have already happened.

    The DPS statistics will probably prove this out. I say “BAN THE USE OF CELLPHONES WHILE DRIVING ON TEXAS ROADS. PERIOD!!!!!

  23. I am shocked at these comments. Do any of you care about freedoms and your civil liberties?

    Is driving while talking/texting dangerous? It sure can be. But so can driving while: eating, putting on makeup, fiddling with the radio,smoking, or talking with a passenger in your car. In parent with children knows that they can be a HUGE distraction while operating a motor vehicle. Old people driving sure scares the hell outta me.

    So should we make all that illegal also? Just imagine how much safer the world would be!

    When I get on the road, I accept that I may be killed by a drunk driver. Or an old person. Or a teen texting, “OMG KAITLIN CAR” as she collides into me. Or an angry man who just found out his wife has been cheating on him. And so on.

    The real question is this: Would you rather live free in an unpredicatabile and reckless world, or would you rather live enslaved in a safe world?

  24. I’ve subscribed to this blog for sometime now, and I think 99.99% of you are totally missing the mark.
    ALL cell phone activity should be banned while driving, not just texting.

    The technology exists and should be (mandatory) factory standard to equip vehicles with cell phone jamming devices (excluding 911) which can only be disabled when the vehicle is in ‘Park’.

    As for any of you ‘Constitutional’ illiterate’s whining about losing personal liberties, your tin foil hat is a bit too tight.

  25. Chris Rasster says:

    Perhaps they should make a law against fat people. The #1 killer of Americans is heart disease. LOL.

    This is about govt control and municipal corporations (cities) wanting to cash in. I can be as distracted correcting the kids or talking to my spouse as texting.

    We can’t keep forcing each other to “do the right thing”.

    Those who would exchange liberty for safety deserve neither – Benjamin Franklin

  26. ItsNotThatHardToFigureItOut says:

    My cell Phone is also my GPS, so are you guys saying if I am using my phone as a GPS device I am breaking the law…..but if I am using a standalone GPS device I am not??? Cant wait to see how that pans out in court

  27. To: ItsNotThatHardToFigureItOut

    Your moniker belies your intelligence…

    If you polled 100 people who use GPS, you’d find that 99 of them use it to get directions to places they’ve been familiar with for years. They would also tell you that they are highly inaccurate.

    People who need GPS to get from point A to Point B should never have been granted a driving license to begin with, and that my friend, is what is not that hard to figure out.

  28. I think cell phones should indeed be banned while driving. Yes there may be other distractions that have not yet come to debate, but banning cellphones will be one less thing to worry about while driving.

  29. ALL STATES I THE UNITED STATS SHOULD BAN TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

  30. Seen it all says:

    “GIVE ME CIVIL LIBERTIES OR GIVE ME DEATH!”
    If we had no laws to protect us from stupid, you would get both.

  31. I hear much talk of freedom and liberty when it comes to texting or phone use while driving. When someone slams a vehicle into one of your love ones while texting on a cell phone, I’d like to hear that argument again. Are you kidding me? While lawmakers often miss, they are on target with this. As the phrase from the movie 300 goes, “This is Madness”. Put the darn phones down while driving. It is real simple or some of us will be real dead. And it just may be you.

  32. Darlene gleffe says:

    On November 25, 2007 (Thanksgiving break), my daughter and her very best friend since the third grade were commuting back to Baylor University when a Pick Up headed in opposite direction drifted into their lane. Megan has hit head on, Laura tried to avoid and rolled her car 3 times. This young man that hit Megan was reading a text message. Megan only 21 yrs old and a honor student at Baylor majoring in Biochemistry. Megan KILLED. Laura PDSD.

    Our lives have changed forever. Megan and Laura were straight A students. They donated their time to SPCA, Habitat for Humanity, . Boys and Girls club, M.D. Cancer center and more. They also worked. Now Megan’s DEAD. Laura’s lost. They were always together. People made fun of them because you never saw one without the other. Laura has shut down. She never returned to school. I do not know this Laura anymore and it breaks my heart.

    Reading a text message and sending one is so distracting. This tragedy was so preventable. All of us died that nite. I do not want you to get that phone call. Put your phone down and Drive.

  33. Mary Beth Langworthy says:

    When I was a teen, every time my parents handed me the family car keys, they reminded my that driving a car carried the same weight as pointing a loaded gun at someone. It has the power to kill whether it is intentional or unintentional.
    I have raised 3 children and I told them the same thing. It was my duty as their parent to teach them that choices have consequences.

    It is everyone’s responsibility to be respectful and attentive on our public common roadways. Your “freedoms” are only encroached upon if it is private property and everyone would do well to remember that!

  34. Nancy Adams says:

    If banning hand held cell phone use whether texting or calling someone would save even one life, then I say ban it. A phone call or a text message is not worth a life.

  35. I’m totally in favor of this law. Every drivers attention should be on the road and nowhere else.

  36. Fawn Valentine Baty says:

    21-year-old killed in wreck.

    A 21-year old man ws killed in a single-vechicle accident early Sunday (April 3, 2011) in Georgia.

    Cody Scott Valentine, of Ball Ground, was traveling alone in a Toyota Tacoma that overturned and hit a tree.

    HE WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE.

    THIS IS MY SON! – HE WAS TEXTING AND DRIVING. SENDING A TEXT TO HIS GIRLFRIEND.

  37. Ms. Taylor L. Kelley says:

    After reading the comments, I see that many think passing a law takes away their freedom. A person has no civil liberties if they’re no longer alive, so how about the freedom of the ones killed by a driver that was making a call, typing or reading a text? Some of you say take responsibility for your actions but, that’s exactly the point. Those responsible for the accidents are not acting responsible when they’re doing anything other than driving their vehicle.

    I remember the day when I would see drivers speeding down the highway while applying makeup, reading a book or looking in the back seat for something. It takes less than a second for any driving situation to change. If you’re constantly aware of the changing environment of the road you’re at lower risk of having an accident.

    Will it take you causing a death before you realize you are operating a heavy piece of machinery which requires your absolute attention? If everyone acted responsibly there would be no need for regulatory laws to enhance the safety of the public. Therefore, I do believe we need to enact a national law that prohibits another deadly distraction.

  38. Robert Nierman says:

    I went to work for a company in Nc the first trip out i had pulled my shift and the other driver was on his shift, he was talking on his cell phone we was on I40east at mile marker 53 when he lost control of the tracto trailor and flipped it while i was asleep in the sleeper. I doont know if there is a law in Texas that prevents this but if not there should be all over the usa no one should be driving when using a cell phone…I have many injuries and workerscomp doesnt seem to care. Please people do not talk while driving its a dangerous game u play when doing so..now i will pay the price for his mistake. PULL OVER IT DONT TAKE BUT A MINUTE TO WRECK!!!!!

  39. JS Watkins says:

    I commute I 27 and I 40 regularly. I watch vehicles of all kind cross over the line on either side, miscalculate changing lanes between other vehicles only to have to dart back to the original lane not to mention using cruse control is no longer an option as vehicles repetitiously slow down and speed up. This does not count the countless times vehicles miss their turn and try to make that turn by slamming on brakes with traffic behind them swerving to miss their rear end only to cause traffic to veer on the opposite shoulder to miss a side swipe.

    Now you make it to the big city with all the stop signs, traffic lights, one ways, rush hour and vehicle congestion leaving less room to get out of the way or risk honking (lights been green a while) or better yet holding your breath when the driver did not notice the red light from some one on the damn phone while they are driving! Its like a war zone!!

    You may not have time to answer the phone or text any other time but will you have the time to attend a funeral and visit a state establishment for the rest of your life?? Let the phone buzz, ring or sing and answer it when you get to your destination or your destination may be changed for you.

  40. Michael White says:

    This may not be the place to say this but with all the technology that we have today on our cell phones like GPS, why can’t the programmers design a program that would make the phone NOT text while the phone is in motion? It could be set at a certain MPH so that if a person was walking they could use it. I know that would prevent everyone in the vehicle from using it but it might be worth the inconvenience to save lives. (for most people) If something is so important that the person needs to be contacted, they can be called and talk on a hands free device. Just saying….

  41. Danny Garcia says:

    There is an application for smart phones which disables calling and texting when the vehicle reaches 5mph. It allows continued use of GPS and emergency (911) calls only.

    If we slice and dice the regulation of phones, many will also be restricted from their GPS (in their phones) which help to reduce collisions by verbal directions in advance to avoid last minute lane changes and sudden turns without proper indicators.

    It is impossible to regulate and control everyone into safety. More laws are foolish and difficult (if not impoassible) to enforce. Cell phones should come pre-loaded with the disabling application…problem solved.

  42. j matthis says:

    i’m sick and tired of legislators trying to be the moms and dads of everyone. Do i use the phone while driving- yes i do (i’m 47 years old).

    Is texting a distraction – yes you can’t look at the message and keep your eyes on the road.

    In regards to talking on a phone and driving, it may divide your attention but so does having the radio on, talking to others in the car , thinking about what your going to have for dinner etc.

    I have elected those in government to do a job. Stop acting holyer than thou and complicating life.

  43. sometimes i just check my phone w/o taking my eyes off the road, a cop sees me glancing @ the phone i get pulled over. i have respect for police but they do have to meet quotas in ticket revenue and that just is just too much authority.

    What they should do is if anyone is driving and distinctivly not looking at the road for ANY reason (ive seen someone drive and read a book) that could be considered a safety violation, and obviously most offenders would be the ones texting.

  44. Steve JP says:

    Gov. Perry is a MORON, and so are the people who think this bill is taking away one’s freedoms. People don’t have the right to go around killing or maiming others because they’re irresponsible drivers.

    Driving is a privilege, or so I’ve been told, and not a right. Wake up folks…or the next one killed by a distracted driver might be one of your loved ones, or maybe yourself!

  45. Jon Battle says:

    Perry is wrong on this. Is banning drinking alcohol while driving taking away a personal privilege? No way. When someone else’s irresponsible action puts ME in jeopardy on the road – I want it stopped. Perry is a wrong if he thinks “awareness” and PSA’s will enlighten the people that are TWD (texting while driving) – it hasnt worked yet – nor will it.

    Ask yourself this…why are speeding while driving, driving drunk, driving with no taillights..all illegal? Why aren’t these considered government micromanaging my rights? Makes no sense.

  46. Jon Battle says:

    The issue and subsequent veto has nothing to do with the contents of the bill..it has to do with your “view” of government involvement in my business. Someone commented that they are tired of government being the Moms and Dads of the world..my take is this…unless a teenager has his Mom IN the car while he is texting, then I want some legislation making it illegal. I saw a guy driving yesterday on the Dallas North Tollway..speed limit 70. This guy is driving 45 mph, phone in hand..texting. By the way..drunk driving comes UNDER the heading of Distracted Driving.

  47. Ms. Taylor L. Kelley says:

    As far as having the radio on or talking to passengers, you can listen to the radio and a passenger talk to you without taking your eyes off the road. There are 34 states that have passed legislation to ban cell phone use while driving so, why not Texas?

    You’re required by law to wear a seat belt and many complained during the pending legislation that it was the individuals right to choose. Wearing my seat belt has saved my life twice. One accident was caused by a drunk driver. Texas already has a law that governs that driver’s choice. The other accident was caused by a distracted driver. After one accident the fire department had to pry open my door to get me out of the vehicle. If I had not been wearing my seat belt I would’ve gone through the windshield. I chose to wear my seat belt long before the law was passed because I choose to be safe; however, there are many drivers who do not.

    So, will I support legislation that bans cell phone use while driving? Yes because it is my choice to be legally safe from irresponsible drivers who choose to endanger others lives by doing everything else except maneuver their vehicle with the utmost attention.

  48. Driving is a privilege, not a right or a liberty. It is governed by rules and regulations because you are operating your vehicle on public roads. Public roads are public goods–we all pay for them. If you don’t want to have the government looking over your shoulder on public roads, you should walk. That way, when your texting distracts you from walking and you don’t notice the light is red, you won’t kill me or my children when you ram into my car. But texting while driving (or holding the phone to the ear and then not looking sideways to make lane changes) is dangerous to others. You wanna drive without rules? Buy a large property and drive around it while you text.

  49. statement driving is a priviledge, not a right =WRONG= the constitution has a right to travel, the supreme court has ruled that that means any mode of travel, walking, driving, horseback, snow sled,pulled by dogs if u can find snow, our constitution/rights have got bout like our elected officials/service = nonexistant,the constitution is the back bone of america

  50. This is a wake up call for all of you “my right boohoo my rights” people out there. My 2 year old daughter was in the car with her mother Tuesday afternoon when her mother slammed into the back of an industrial type truck at 60 mph while she was texting. My 2 year old daughter is now in the hospital with a fractured skull because of texting and driving. Picture a small child in a hospital bed with tubes and leads coming from her small fragile body. Think of the pain she is in. Is the “right” to text and drive important to me? No…not at all. There are all kinds of vehicle electronics that allow hands-free talking and texting. If it’s THAT important to you I suggest you go and buy one, because my daughter’s life is more important to me than your message about the movie you saw last night.

  51. Rick Perry is a fool. I live in Texas. I am an adolescent male. I text all the time. But I will NEVER text while driving. When you enter into a social contract you give up some rights to better your surroundings. You shouldnt have qualms about giving up the right to text and drive if you value safety at all.

  52. I would like someone to tell me what is so important that they have to text while driving! We didn’t do it 20 yrs. ago. We still got important information delivered where it needed to be! We, also didn’t endanger others! Somethings don’t need to be done in a killing machine!!! Hands free is better, but it is still not the answer to distractions while driving. Children should have conversation and attention. Become a more alert driver. One day you may need that instant response.

  53. Casey Dunsmore says:

    Are you people aware that there is already a law in the state of Texas, and many in many other states, that makes it illegal to drive while distracted? Doesn’t matter if it is a cell phone, your screaming kid, changing the radio station or some hot body on the sidewalk. If you are not paying attention to your driving you are operating a vehicle illegally. We do not need more laws–we need people to obey the laws we have and more law enforcement to ensure that laws are obeyed. We also need to make people understand how dangerous it is to drive while not paying attention to what we are doing.

  54. This is not about freedom, this is about safety. I have seen not oly young kids but so many adults driving and texting, even one with an infant car seat. What are you waiting for? Kill innocent people due to a text? The Insurance premium should be incresed big time for those in a car accident due to texting while driving. How about that?

    Also, cell phone providers should be liable for not educating consumer of the risk. They should be enganged into educating consumers and providing a FREE hands-free device.

  55. Everything is so backwards! Do you know about the massive solar flares that we are having? Is the government warning you about the potential power grid failures that we could have. Do you know that the public is largely unaware. If that solar spot pointed at the earth erupts you won’t have to worry about their legislation about cell phones, because there won’t be any. Do you see what is going on all over the world. Bigger things than regulating our cell phones. . Keep your freedom, Don’t let them regulate every little thing you do or before you know it you will lose all your freedom! I am against it

  56. I hate big government, and I hate laws controlling our everyday lives, but I think that there should be a ban on texting while driving. In most “safety” cases, I wouldn’t agree, but this is legit. Think of all of the lives distracted driving has taken. Yes, while educating people will help, you will always have people that won’t cooperate until punished.

  57. I guess if we cannot read, write, send or receive any wirelessly delivered text or other text then we had better remove our car radios (you know those fancy ones with all the HD messages with the song and artist names). Oh and last I looked all “text” that I read is indeed text, I guess that we had better remove any “text” that is printed in the car. Well there goes remembering which stalk operates the lights and wipers. Oh and if it against the law for me to read text while driving I guess that would include anything outside the vehicle too. No officer, I did NOT read that stop sign/speed limit/ yield sign..they have text on them too..didn’t want to get a ticket for reading ya know.

  58. My fellow Texans…let’s get real. The next time any of us gets t-boned in an intersection or rear-ended at a red light, the first thing we’re going to holler is: S/he was prolly yackin on that #&$^ cell phone! Ahmma sue that sum$&^{$.” And it will be at THAT moment when the clouds will part to reveal clear blue skies.. you’ll hear the Simpson’s theme song…and all of a sudden….YOU WILL become pro ban!

    Additionally however there are three things we should also consider banning
    1.) Texting/gaming/etc
    2.) EATING AND DRINKING and
    3.) Uh….ummmm…danggit help me out here willya? I can’t remember the third thing …. Oops!

    (Awww c’mon now you saw it coming!)

  59. I live in Texas. Is it against the law, to your knowledge, to hold a cell phone (off or otherwised closed) while driving in a school zone?

    Recently a school district police officer flagged me down and said it was against the law to even hold your cell phone…that it had to be put down somewhere. So I put it on my lap…. and he said that was against the law too. That I needed to put in on the floor. Do you know if this is the law?

    • That would be a judgment call. If I were a judge (well, dad was) I would side with the cop:

      It is illegal to use a handheld electronic device in school zones, the emphasis being on handheld. If you were holding a cell phone in your hands at the time the officer spotted you, it seems reasonable to assume you’re using the device in some way. The vast majority of people put down a cell phone immediately after its use. And the holding of a cell phone while driving certainly violates the spirit of the law. The Texas school zone law does not specify that the phone must be out of the driver’s reach.

      Look under the “Current prohibitions” section (above) for a link to the statutes and Sec. 545.425.

  60. John McGinnis says:

    When did we all become so important that we have to be reached by phone while driving? Texting and reading messages on devices while driving is extreemly dangerous! But the fact is engageing in a conversation while driving is distracted driving. Is there anything so important that it can’t wait until you have gotten out of the car. I think there should be a national law banning the use of telephones, hands free or otherwise, and get back to paying attention to the road, instead of whose on the phone. The people of this nation all drove without phones for 60 years, and we all got by just fine. Put down the friggin phone and drive!

  61. CBs, car phones, cassette players, 8-tracks, radios, eating, putting on makeup, children in the back seat (or talking to a passenger in the back seat!), etc. have all served as distractions in the car over the years.

    I conduct business on a cell phone (responsibly) as I drive; and being able to do so on the road saves considerable time and allows me to serve countless needy and homeless people. It adds hours to my day. I pull over if I need to dial a number or write something down.

    The real danger lies in TEXTING while driving. If a texter causes an accident, phone records can be checked to establish guilt. The texter should be ticketed “at fault” and held liable for financial losses, deaths, etc. Texter should be held accountable according to standard laws of the state… no special legislation is necessary. Wahlah!

  62. this is not true

  63. Gladys Stephan says:

    Does HB55 also apply when school is not in session. For example between 10am thru 2:30 pm and 5pm thru 7:00am.

  64. I would explain why the texting while driving is EXTREMELY dangerous and nothing like reading road signs (which is a part of the things exactly you’re SUPPOSED to do as a part of the DRIVING PROCESS and you’ll most probably miss it if you’re texting) but if one didn’t get it himself then no point to explain it. Your freedom ends where my (and the others) freedom begins. … Justifying such a stupid act as texting while operating a 4000+ pounds machine moving with 60+ mph is an act compared to (I’ll speak Texans language now) being on a shooting range and texting while operating your gun and swinging it around pointing it and shooting in random directions. … And just because it’s legal it doesn’t mean it s OK. It is absolutely legal to eat a pound of salt at once but you’ll die long before you eat even the half of it. So stop talking and complaining and start thinking instead before you kill someone or yourself!

  65. The government is attempting to control ever moment of our lives. People have take to text hands free now but you wait they find out you were talking or texting with vioce hands free you will be fined to because its not abotu safety it never was it is an attempt to control your lives and extract a tax from you.

  66. If you can’t use a cell phone you can’t or shouldn’t use a gps system either. They are also a distraction from driving.

  67. It was only a few weeks ago that a lady with a cell phone crashed through a barrier and rolled down the embankment, killing her. She was using a cell phone or texting at the time.

  68. John Foresyth says:

    Against texting and driving. There is no excuse for it.

  69. They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    — Benjamin Franklin

  70. John Volstad says:

    Texting is a worldwide problem only because mobile phone providers offer the service so cheaply, sometimes even free. Want to stop people from texting so much? Charge them higher rates! Make it at least the same as a regular call. More if they post photos. People would then go from typing to talking again on their mobile device.

  71. Sheila Guyer says:

    I agree, ALL cell phone use needs to be banned while driving.

  72. TERESA D. DIETZ says:

    ON 12/17/12 I was hit by a texting driver (older woman) she never saw me at all! she came straight at me from the left turn only lane, while I was making a left turn myself unto Thousand Oaks Dr. in San Antonio. She wasn’t sorry and denied that she was at fault! Somebody needs to stop this stupidity! I am in great pain thanks to a person that choosed to text while driving!

  73. I feel this is totally wrong, particulary when someone moves from another state (military) and is unaware of the law. Our daughter was stopped in El Paso for talking on a cell phone. She asked the officer what the law was and he couldn’t even tell her. He wrote her a ticket.

  74. Steven Ailshie says:

    i thank how ever made this law needs to be taken out back and hours wipt

  75. Bout fking time. Texans can’t even drive to begin with.

  76. Rick Perry — It’s time you do something to show Texas is a positive and progressive state and quit making us look like idiots!

  77. Jimmy Hays says:

    Hat’s off to El Paso, too bad Dallas and metroplex don’t have the same courage to act.
    No hat for Rick Perry who allegedly plans on vetoing any bill that deals with cell phone use restriction; why is that Perry?

  78. Debra Bruce says:

    I’d really like to see Texas make it illegal to hold a cell phone and use it while driving period. I do believe that using a bluetooth while driving is safer even though I’ve seen studies that say you’re still distracted. Anyone that can afford to have a cellphone can afford to buy a $15 bluetooth.

  79. Ray Watters says:

    My wife and I are the victims of a careless driver who failed to notice our stopped vehicle at a red light because she was too busy texting. The woman rear-ended our car and we were both injured. I am very much in favor of a bill to prevent texting while driving.

  80. Joe Frey says:

    Perry is wrong, reading and driving is illegal so why is texting not? Reading text on a cell phone is no different that reading your bank statement while driving or maybe your favorite novel. We have all seen the person that is all over the road, slow take off from stops, and near collisions. When a driving test is given in Texas BOTH hands on the steering wheel are required, otherwise failure of the test is a likely hood. Put down the phones and drive … We don’t want to be your ROAD KILL

  81. Al Cinamon says:

    Joe, maybe Perry is right. What you probably don’t realize is that when states pass anti-texting laws that doesn’t stop drivers from texting. It just forces them to put the device in their lap where the police can’t see it. That means they have to take their eyes completely off the road, which creates a worse situation. NY passed an anti-texting law and crashes have skyrocketed. Think about it.

  82. Chapulin says:

    “The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement.” They micromanage everything else. I am pro!

  83. They need to pass this and make the fine a steep one. Maybe then all the idiots out there (mostly immature women) will think twice about it.

  84. Coppell Driving school says:

    We should be very much careful while driving and the people use to drink or text while driving I think they are the fools.

  85. Jana Carr says:

    Why don’t they outlaw cell phone use of any kind in a moving vehicle, period. A few years ago we didn’t have them!! We survived.

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