Possible changes to distracted driving policies

Distracted driving remains a public threat in Texas with more than 100,000 crashes a year.    

We are one of only four states that doesn't have a statewide ban on texting while driving. But, that could soon change.

When it comes to distracted driving, texting tops the list. There are many people who also use that time to put on make-up, have something to eat or read. Now you could soon be in trouble for that.

Two beautiful sisters with bright futures ahead, gone in the blink of an eye.

"Even thinking about it now, I'm speechless because I could remember having the last conversations that I had with them and going to volleyball games. I mean, you wouldn't think their lives would be taken this early," Toron Wooldridge, brother of victims.

The crash happened in April, for a reason that could have been prevented.

"They went to Padre for spring break. They were coming back and the driver of the car looked down at her GPS, when she looked back up I guess she had veered off and tried to correct and she over-corrected. They were hit by an 18-wheeler," says Wooldridge.

Toron Wooldridge is making sure their deaths were not in vain. He has turned his grief into motivation to educate others. He was one of many people at the first AAA Distracted Driving Policy Summit on Wednesday.

"We wanted to talk with law enforcement officers, with legislators, with families who've lost loved ones as a result of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, to see what it's going to take to finally get a statewide ban on texting while driving," says Doug Shupe, AAA Texas.

AAA Texas has been advocating for a statewide ban on texting while driving for the last three legislative sessions. They will be at it again in 2017.

"Being a city ordinance, there's a lot of things we can do to kind of move it around and make it fit Austin that you wouldn't be able to do if it were a state law. Having said that, we would like to have a state law, just for the uniformity sake throughout the state," says Asst. Chief Frank Dixon, Austin Police Department.

In 2015, the Texas Department of Transportation reports distracted driving caused more than 100,000 crashes statewide. In that, 2,502 people received serious injuries and 422 people died. The Austin Police Department says there were around 300 crashes in 2015 and more than 5,000 citations issued.

They expect to surpass both numbers this year. "Being able to put more teeth in the city ordinance and possibly adding things such as people putting on makeup, eating in their car, reading," says Dixon.

Wooldridge hopes people will understand that one look down only takes a moment. But, that moment could change your life forever. "I try to educate and prevent students from making poor decisions and poor choices. So this just transitioned into, let me help someone so they don't feel what we feel," says Wooldridge.

We're told on average takes about five seconds to send or read a text message, traveling 55 miles per hour that's like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.

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