There are only four states in the country that don't have a statewide ban on texting and driving and Texas is one of them. But, some lawmakers hope in 2017 that changes.
Victims, families of victims, law enforcement, hospital staff, cell phone companies and many more spoke at a meeting held to brief and educate lawmakers, and their staff members on House Bill 62 and Senate Bill 31.
James Shaffer of Denton lost a wife and daughter in a texting and driving crash, “Some of the worst things to do as a father is to have to sit your 10-year-old son down and say ‘I am sorry, your mom and Tita were killed last night. They're gone and they're not coming back.’ I don't think anyone, anyone should have to go through this,” he shared memories of what he calls the hardest time of his life in a crowded room, “I wasn’t even willing to accept that as the explanation from the investigating officer because I told him I don't believe it, there's no possible way, that you're telling me that this lady killed my wife and daughter over a text message,” he said. The crash happened, less than a year ago, “I often wonder if we had a strict completely enforceable distracted law in place, would my girls still be alive today?”
Senator Judith Zaffirini and Representative Tom Craddick have joined together now for a 4th try to pass a law prohibiting texting while driving. State Representative Gene Wu helped draft one of the bills, “We have tried to do this for three or four different times, and it has not happened and has not happened because members in this body in the house and senate and even the governor, Governor Perry at one time said, well it's somebody's right to do that. I don't think I can be nice about it, because I am getting pissed, because this is outrageous. It is outrageous that our state cannot do something as simple as dealing with distracted drivers
Nearly 100 cities in Texas already have ordinances prohibiting texting while driving, but advocates of this bill say many Texas roads are left unprotected. “Even conservative estimates, said that about 125 people a year would have been saved had we passed this law, 125 people a year, but we didn't do it,” Rep. Wu said.
There's no word yet on when these bills will be looked at during the legislative session.