State-wide texting while driving ban back before lawmakers

Texas lawmakers will once again consider a statewide texting while driving ban during the 84th legislative session.

"This is the only way I can hold my baby," said Jeanne Brown before a crowded room. Brown lost her daughter Alex in 2009 when she flipped her truck on the way to school outside of Lubbock. Alex took her eyes off the road and focused on her phone instead of driving.

Since then Brown has turned her tragedy into advocacy. She's made countless trips to Austin since losing her daughter pushing for a statewide law making texting while driving a ticketable offense.

"This is our third time trying. I don't know what's going to happen but I'm going to keep doing what I do and that's sharing her story and letting kids know their lives are more valuable than that text," said Brown.

On Tuesday 14 other families who share similar tragedies joined Brown to show their support for the Alex Brown Memorial Act.

Democratic State Senator Judith Zaffirini and Republican State Representative Tom Craddick have filed the bill in their respective chambers.

"Please do not be discouraged. We cannot and will not give up until this gets passed," said Zaffirini.

"What's going to be critical is for our governor to buy in," said Republican State. Rep. Byron Cook, a co-sponsor of the bill in the house.

"That pain and that grief never goes away and we don't want that to happen to anyone else," said Brown.

In 2011 both chambers passed similar legislation but Governor Rick Perry did not sign it into law. Then Attorney General Greg Abbott joined Perry voicing opposition to another state-wide ban. Tuesday, when asked Abbott seemed to be willing to listen.

"It's premature and we'll see what gets passed if anything. I'm very supportive of safety on the roads. We need to do it without too much government intrusion," said Governor Greg Abbott.

"Texans are independent and we don't like being told what to do especially by our government but this isn't telling us what to do. This is protecting lives just like the seat belt law and the speed limit there are reasons for them," said Brown.

Similar laws are on the books in 44 states and in 40 cities across Texas including Austin. The Texas Department of Transportation says 459 people died in 2013 where a driver was distracted.

"The pain and the grief never go away and we don't want that to happen to anyone else," said Brown.

Efforts to pass a ban since 2009 have been unsuccessful. Still Brown is hopeful and says she'll continue to travel to Austin as long as she needs to.

"I think Alex would be really proud of us," said Brown.

State Sen. Zaffirini says there will be a hearing in the senate. Rep. Cook says he's confident the bill will have the votes in the house.

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