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Texas legislature pushing texting and driving ban

Sixty percent of the states in the U.S. have some form of law that bans texting while driving. In Texas, texting bans are locally in effect in San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Dallas, but a statewide bill has yet to be passed.

Of the several distracted driving proposals to curb auto accident injuries and fatalities, the Texas legislature is considering House Bill 243. The bill’s original design stems from a fatal truck accident two years ago, when a 17-year-old girl was killed on her way to school as she was texting and driving.

The girl’s parents testified for their support of the measure now being discussed in Senate committee. Under House Bill 243, the use of electronic devices while driving to text message, write emails or instant message would be banned throughout the state.

Other bills want to add penalties for drivers who use all but hands-free cell phones while driving, or severely restrict cell phone usage in school zones. Yet another bill introduced in the state Senate, similar to House Bill 243, includes one simple word that the House proposal, which has been diluted by an amendment, does not — "read."

That one word would make the difference between whether or not Texas drivers are allowed to look at the screens of electronic gadgets while driving. Some lawmakers say the House texting ban bill won’t pass without its amendment, while others say it is foolish to ban everything else that could distract drivers while excluding reading screens.

Whichever bill makes the strongest appeal is likely to gain the support of the Texas legislature very soon. Lawmakers expect a definitive legal move this session on the issue of distracted driving.

Source: Automotive Discovery, "Texas May Soon Ban Texting," Audra Dinino, 27 May 2011

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