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Texas Lawmakers, Families Push for Texting While Driving Ban

KUT News

State lawmakers gathered Tuesday at the Capitol in support of a bill that would outlaw texting while driving. 

Both Senate Bill 28 and House Bill 63 would ban all forms of cell phone use while driving a vehicle—including texting, emailing and talking. This is the second attempt at a texting ban for both State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and State Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland). Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the last attempt in 2011

Jeanne Brown testified in favor of the bill, which is named in memoriam of her daughter Alex. Alex died in 2009 after she careened off the road while texting friends on the way to school. Since then, Brown and other families impacted by similar accidents have pushed state lawmakers to pass the bill, likening it to seatbelt regulation.

“We have speed limits. We have school zones. We wear seatbelts, and we do it so we can all be safe on the highway together," Brown said.  "And, to me, that’s what will happen if we pass this texting and driving bill.”

Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) is a co-author of the house bill. He also supported the bill last session and agrees that it promotes safety, rather than restricting freedom. 

"Honestly I don't think we should be here right now. This should already be the law, but it isn't," Menendez said. "And this time, when we get it passed, it'll stay the law. It'll become the law."

With 18 lawmakers sponsoring the bill, Rep. Patricia Harless (R-Spring) said that she is confident that the bill’s bipartisan political and public support could change the governor’s mind and keep him from using his veto power again.

Currently, 25 cities in Texas, including Austin, have bans on some form of cell phone use while driving. 

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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