07/14/2015 // 1-800 Car Wreck // (press release)
Distracted driving laws have become a hot topic of discussion for many in Texas, since the state legislature recently failed to pass a measure that would place a long fought for ban on texting while driving. House Bill 80 failed to receive clearance in the Senate, even after garnering bipartisan support, as the deadline expired in time for it to move to a floor vote.
Source: Statesman Report “Texting-while-driving ban falls short again in Legislature”
“We tried everything and worked until the last minute,” state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said early Thursday morning on her Facebook page. “It is amazing that only 18 senators (11 Democrats, seven Republicans) supported this life-saving legislation. Elections have consequences.”
The measure would have placed a statewide ban on reading or sending text-based communications using a handheld device while in operation of a motor vehicle. The bill, which was passed in the House, was authored by former Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, who made two prior attempts to get related legislation passed.
The effort to get legislation passed that would outlaw texting while driving in Texas has been longstanding. The state is one of only four in the U.S. that does not currently have such a law in place. Proponents of the effort came close to getting their wish in 2011, when a related bill gained passage in the Texas Legislature, but it was vetoed by then Governor Rick Perry.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of ban on texting while driving unprecedented
“Perry is the first governor to veto such a bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan group. Since the first statewide ban on texting while driving was enacted in 2007, 34 states and the District of Columbia have enacted texting bans for all drivers.”
Many drivers in Houston and other areas of Texas were not aware that there has never been a statewide ban on texting while driving prior to the recent media reports. Nor are a significant number clear on what other distracted driving issues have been outlined by lawmakers in the state. For example, some believe there is ban on cell phone use for all drivers; however, no state has yet to enact such a ban. Cell phone use by novice drivers is; however, prohibited in 38 states and D.C. including Texas. The state also requires child restraints for passengers age 7 or younger. Also, there are differences in the seriousness of penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while under the influence (DUI) in Texas. Many people consider both offenses to be one in the same.
It is important that drivers in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and everywhere else in Texas maintain knowledge of the changing driving laws in their state. Speed limit increases, and the addition of red light cameras are two examples of major changes in recent years that some drivers have yet to grow accustomed to. Not knowing about these and other laws can lead to problems such as traffic citations for violations and more: particularly in instances where someone has broken the law and as a result contributed to a traffic accident. Not only are they accountable for civil or criminal penalties that may arise, but may also be held responsible for the financial damages incurred by victims. Says Houston based car wreck attorney Jonathan Harris, “when it comes to accountability, ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
The Governors Highway Safety Administration is among the resources that outline several Texas driving laws online.
Eberstein Witherite LLP
Url: 1-800 Car Wreck Houston