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Statewide texting and driving ban on legislative agenda in 2015

As one year closes, another legislative session is slated to begin. Some concerns are already on the table for the 84th Session. One of the most prominent is a statewide ban on texting while driving.

It would be hard to dispute the dangers of texting and driving given the statistics that are reported by public safety officials. Yet one issue is how far the government can go in regulating such activity. Some special interest groups even go so far as to call interfering with a person's cellphone use an invasion of personal privacy. But as with many legal issues, the privilege of privacy must be weighed against the public interest.

Texas does currently have some statewide laws that prohibit texting while driving in certain situations. These include:

  • Any texting by drivers younger than 18;
  • School bus drivers while children are onboard the bus; and
  • No cellphone or other handheld device for any driver while in an active school zone.

House Bill 80 was introduced to prohibit "text-based communication" including email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and instant messaging in a vehicle unless the vehicle is out of the lane of travel and stopped.

A similar bill was introduced in 2011 and passed both houses but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill, seemingly taking the side of the privacy proponents, saying the law was essentially allowing the state government to micromanage adult behavior. Another version of the bill died in the state Senate in 2013.

Regardless of the outcome of the criminal consequences that the law would have if passed, any type of distracted driving can have deadly consequences.

The act that causes an accident does not have to be criminally illegal to require that a distracted driver compensate a victim of his or her actions in a civil lawsuit. A law firm who holds distracted drivers accountable for death and injury caused to their clients will help advocate for your rights, whether or not Texas legislators vote to ban their dangerous behavior.

Source: Victoria Advocate, "Border, texting, open carry top public safety concerns," Bianca Montes, Dec. 30, 2014

Secondary Source: KXAN, "Texting while driving in Texas would be banned by bill" Patrick Tolbert and Phil Prazan, Nov. 10, 2014

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