House committee to vote on texting ban next week

Lawmakers listened to testimony Thursday during a hearing on a proposed state wide ban on texting while driving. Police officers, medical professionals and families of victims made pleas to lawmakers for their support.

"It's really hard to relive the story over and over again," said Troy Abrams who pushed through the pain before the committee. For two years now he has lived with the heartache of losing his son. Abrams testified that Brandon, 6, was waiting for the ice cream man to come to their San Antonio neighborhood. He was on his bike not far from their home when a driver messing with his phone swerved and his Brandon.

The six-year-old did not survive the crash that his older sister had to witness. Abrams' testimony brought one lawmaker to tears.

"It's not going to help me bring him back but it could help others," said Abrams who made himself come to the capitol knowing he could speak to decision makers.

He shared his support for HB 80 which is also known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act and he wasn't alone.

"It's not if but when it's going to happen to someone you know and love," said Krista Tankersley who lost her brother Jeff. Jeff Tankersley, 48, was training for an Ironman competition when he was hit by a driver who hit him while he was on his bicycle.

"It's been over five years and she's not coming back," said Jeanne Brown. Brown's daughter Alex died in a crash texting while driving. She's made multiple trips to Austin to show her support for the bill.

If passed Texas would join 44 other states with similar bans. Representative Tom Craddick authored the bill for the third session. He's optimistic as far as support is concerned.

"I do think the third time is the charm. We have seen more members tell us they support it then before," said the West Texas Republican.

The bill has failed twice before as some lawmakers are concerned about government over reach.

"It's all about safety and protecting people and making sure they have a safe right when they back out of their driveways and are on our highways and that's what it is about for me," added Craddick.

Craddick says he's in touch with Governor Greg Abbott's staffers and says DPS and TxDOT support the bill. "I think it's come to the time when it's got to be done," said Craddick.

"I'm an independent Texas woman and I don't like the government telling me what to do or how fast to drive but I understand there's a reason for it and that's the safety of others," said Brown.

In February Governor Greg Abbott told reports it was premature for him to take a stand before any action is taken.

The House committee vote could come as soon as next week.