Texas Ban on Texting While Driving Takes Effect Sept. 1

By: Dug Begley
VIA The Houston Chronicle

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

OMG, Texas has a texting ban for drivers.

Gov. Greg. Abbott signed HB 62 Tuesday, approving the state’s first ban on handheld communications by motorists. It brings an end to more than a decade of efforts by some lawmakers, notably State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

Previous attempts at texting bans either failed to get out of the legislature or fell to the governor’s veto pen.

The ban goes into effect Sept. 1. After then drivers may not use a phone to “read, write, or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.” If cited and found guilty, the offense comes with a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense.

To gain support in the Senate where some questioned the bill’s specifics, Zaffirini changed the proposal to carve out exemptions, making it legal to use a phone to control a car’s stereo system and to access a mapping program.

Texas was one of four states without a general texting ban behind the wheel. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 455 people were killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured in the state last year in vehicle crashes related to distracted driving.