Legislation introduced to ban texting while driving statewide

If the third time wasn't a charm, maybe the fourth time will be. On the first day of filing for the 85th Legislative Session, Republican House member Tom Craddick and Democratic Senator Judith Zaffirini have once again introduced bills to ban texting while driving all over the state.

"When we first started working on this bill there were only 9 states in the United States had this on the books.  And now all but 4 have it," Craddick said.

It's called the "Alex Brown Memorial Act"'  In 2009, while on her way to school outside of Lubbock, Brown flipped her truck.  She was texting.   

During the last session, Brown's mother Jeanne addressed concerns that the bill is government over-reach.

"Texans are independent and we don't like being told what to do 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," Brown said last year.

Craddick says nearly 100 cities across the state have adopted ordinances addressing cell phone usage behind the wheel -- something that may get confusing if you're driving from one end of Texas to the other.

"What we need is a unifying law so that people that drive in our state will not what they're supposed to abide by and what they're not," Craddick said.

One mode of transportation that often finds itself at the mercy of distracted driving: bicycles.

"A lot of people are scared to ride their bike...for that exact reason 'Oh I'm going to get run-over,''" said Mercedes Feris, the Executive Director of "Bike Austin."

Mercedes said even though many cyclists just get up and cycle on after being hit and never report the incident, distracted driving is a big problem for the bike community.

"As you get more people riding, more people walking, you raise the awareness and people will start paying more attention.  But until we get there we really hope that people can put their phones down," Feris said.

The legislation has failed to become law 3 times.  Governor Perry vetoed it the first time around.  Craddick is optimistic leadership will give full support this time. 
Feris is hopeful too.

"Just based on what what I've seen and what I've heard from city leaders, state leaders, it's promising," Feris said.

Craddick's office says as opposed to just saying "texting" we're really talking about electronic data messaging as a whole so that could be Facebook, Instagram, e-mails and of course texting.
According to Craddick's office you can still pick up the phone and make a call unlike the Austin ordinance.

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