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Texas May Join 30 Other States to Ban Texting While Driving

At a recent press conference promoting House Bill 243, the Alex Brown Memorial Act, Jeanne and Johnny Mac Brown told the tragic story of their 17 year-old daughter, Alex Brown, who was killed in a rollover accident while texting on her way to school. As a reminder of the damage texting while driving can do, her ruined pickup truck was displayed prominently at the Texas Capital throughout the day.

The message apparently worked, as on April 8, 2011 the House passed the bill by a 124-16 vote. It was one of 10 bills proposing a ban on texting while driving considered by the Texas Legislature this year. None of the other 10 bills proposing a statewide ban have passed either the House or Senate.

The bill specifically bans writing and sending texts, not reading, after an amendment proposed by Rep. Larry Taylor was adopted. "I hate for myself to be considered a criminal for so much as looking down at my phone," the Texas Tribune reported Taylor saying at the hearing. The bill’s author, Rep. Tom Craddick, countered that a texting driver is 20 times more likely to get into an accident than a drunk driver. Devices such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) would still be legal, as would talking on a handheld or hands-free cell phone.

Many Texas municipalities, including Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso already restrict mobile device use while driving, including texting bans.

Opponents of the Bill Note Difficulty of Enforcement, Civil Liberty Concerns

It is still not clear whether the bill will pass in the state Senate. It has been waiting for a committee hearing since April 11, and the Texas 2011 Legislative Session ends in June.

While most states ban texting, critics of the proposed law point out that enforcement of the texting bans can be difficult. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety completed a study in 2010 that found in four states that had recently passed texting bans, three actually had an increased number of accidents.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact a local personal injury attorney. You may be able to receive compensation for medical costs and other expenses resulting from the accident.

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