Today’s focus is on texting while behind the wheel in Austin, Texas. It was with a firm message in mind that Rep. Tom Craddick sat down to address a legislative group of lawmakers on Tuesday. Armed with folders of supporting statistics, determined to enter a bill that would outlaw this dangerous practice, he stated, “Texting while driving is five times more dangerous than intoxicated driving,” Craddick, R-Midland, informed the House Transportation Committee before following up with his reasoning, backing his words and passionately demonstrating why the Committee should support House Bill 63.
He went on, rallying behind his opening statement, saying that current studies demonstrate that a texting driver is 23 times more likely than an attentive driver to end up in an accident. There’s an unacceptable 4.6 seconds in which a texting driver takes his or her eyes off the road to answer or respond to texts. In that time, he eloquently added, a vehicle traveling at an average speed of 55 MPH can travel the equivalent distance of a football field.
“That kind of says a lot,” Craddick said. “Texting while driving is dangerous and deadly, but it is completely preventable.”
Supporting these facts with statistics on Amarillo and El Paso, Craddick added that both of these cities ban the use of any type of mobile device and that close to 24 other cities also outlaw some use of cellphones. His belief is that a statewide law is imperative in ensuring public view is not clouded.
Passing The Alex Brown Law
Tuesday’s committee marked Craddick’s biggest step yet in coaxing fellow legislators to pass a new law specifically designed to make texting on electronic devices an unlawful practice while driving. The bill, introduced by Craddick, speaker for the Texas House between the years 2003 to 2009, is drafted and presented before the Transportation Committee with the express intention of also stopping drivers from either updating their social networks or typing and transmitting emails.
The law, named in recognition of Terry County student, Alex Brown, the casualty in a texting while driving incident involving four other passengers, passed back in a 2011 meeting, but Gov. Rick Perry refused, stating that the state cannot be held responsible in controlling its citizens every action.
The immediate family of Alex Brown, currently engaged in teaching those willing to listen of the perils of texting while driving and clamoring for comparable legislation in other states, were not in Austin on Tuesday due to other commitments, a lobbying action in Mississippi for similar measures, said Craddick.
“We are here today to honor Alex (Brown), Javier (Zamora) and others like them who have lost their lives to texting while driving,” stated Craddick. “This is an important public safety issue. We have the opportunity to act on legislation that will save lives.”
Of all the other prospective texting while driving bans filed this period, HB 63 and its partner, Senate Bill 28, filed by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, are judged to be the most favorite to pass. Senate Bill 28 has not yet received its required public hearing.
Supported by local law enforcement agencies, both bills also have the backing of insurance groups and telephone companies, but not everyone is fully convinced that a texting ban will substantially reduce the amount of car accidents or that the law is truly an imperative.
In a statement from Transportation Committee George Lavender, R-Texarkana, it was observed that some studies counter-indicate the supplied statistics, showing that text bans do not cut the number of accidents.
“It’s something we need to think about before we all hold hands and do this,” Lavender said at the public hearing.
According to Perry’s office, the governor believes texting while driving is an irresponsible activity, but there’s already an existent law banning drivers under the age of 18 from texting while driving.
“The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement,” Lucy Nashed, Perry’s spokeswoman, said.
“The Legislature will be looking at a number of bills this session, and the governor will thoroughly review any that make it through the process and onto his desk.”
Originally posted 2014-05-06 18:59:30.