Eyes on the road: Texas’s proposed ban on texting while driving hits speedbump

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att_dangers_texting_while_driving_infographic1

Infographic on the dangers of texting while driving, from AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign

Texting while driving has become an epidemic in America, causing 3,328 traffic accident deaths and over 421,000 injuries each year. Young drivers are especially susceptible to texting while driving; according to CDC data, 31% of drivers read or send texts or emails while driving, and this figure is closer to 50% for drivers under 20. In 2012, 21% of fatal crashes among teenage drivers were found to be related to cellphone use. This chilling data has sparked a strong advocacy movement to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. Youth safety groups, government agencies, safe driving advocates, and even the private sector are currently working to encourage legislators to ban texting while driving and enact steep penalties for those that do. As a result, 46 states and Washington DC have passed bills making it illegal to text while driving. However, Texas is one of the last remaining states without a texting while driving ban. This isn’t for lack of trying; Sen. Tom Craddick has tried three times to pass a bill he authored (HB80) banning texting while driving in Texas. He has pledged to again raise the bill during the next legislative session. However, Senate opposition believes the bill crosses a line and steps on individual liberties. Governor Rick Perry has vetoed the bill in previous legislative sessions, saying that it will “micromanage the behavior of adults”. I fully support Sen. Craddick’s efforts to ban texting while driving in Texas; it is a dangerous habit with deadly consequences. A study done at Texas A&M University showed that if this bill is passed it could save 90 lives a year in Texas. With continued advocacy efforts and national safe driving campaigns, hopefully Texas will follow the majority of the country by banning texting while driving.

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7 Responses to “Eyes on the road: Texas’s proposed ban on texting while driving hits speedbump”

  1. LaithS Says:

    This is really a significant problem which is widely seen on our streets. I drive through a highway every day to work and back home and notice the huge number of drivers of different ages but in specific young adults texting or sometimes even watching videos, checking emails, or get in a deep discussion on the phones which could definitely distract them from driving carefully. I believe in order to solve this problem there should be further limitations on cellular usage during driving even in states where there was some sort of banning. The phone usage on the roads should be limited to fast calls and phones should be put on holders with complete banning of texting and browsing.

  2. phung4 Says:

    I am glad to say that the advertising and media outlets for this campaign are now more apparent and (hopefully) reaching the ears of young drivers. This is a serious problem as smartphones make it easier for drivers to manipulate nowadays- no longer is it just talking and texting, but also using applications and other functions on the phone. In any situation, I’m sure one can say it is difficult to multi-task and be completely focused on more than two things at once. As the poster in the image displays, research has found that teens do admit that texting while driving is dangerous. Therefore, with the help from cell phone carriers and the private sector, as well as the media via radio and television, this issue may gain traction at the government level for the remaining states that do not have the texting while driving ban. Just like the way seat belt use has become the law and nature of habit, public health policies can aim to make texting and talking while driving a habit to break.

  3. carolinejhsph Says:

    Definitely an important issue to highlight. I wonder if other states have also adopted similar rules and demonstrated it’s positive effects. Here in Alberta, Canada — we have the “Distracted Driving Legislation”. Use of hand-held cell phones, emailing, texting while driving are all offences that subject to large fines. However, even that doesn’t do enough to dissuade people. The AT&T add is actually really well decided and their efforts are certainly appreciated.

  4. lynettewasson Says:

    State lawmakers could look towards studies that have been done on this topic, especially when looking at the younger age group. A longitudinal study published in APHA looked at the effect of texting laws (as they differ from state to state) on fatality rates, once the law was enacted. Interestingly, texting laws that banned only young drivers from texting “were the most effective at reducing deaths among the 15-21 year old cohort, with an associated 11% reduction in traffic fatalities among this age group in states with such bans”. (1) There was a reduction in other groups as well, but the young age group had the largest reduction.
    Although the state is concerned with micromanaging the behaviors of adults, a texting ban would significantly affect younger drivers. The lawmakers need to look at the population as a whole, and look at the data the supports the positive effect on younger drivers.

    1.https://www.uab.edu/news/updates/item/5007-primary-texting-bans-associated-with-lower-traffic-fatalities-study-finds

  5. brittanydispenza Says:

    To me, this is a no brainer. There is so much research on distracted driving, even before texting came onto the scene. There is an obvious focus on young drivers who lack experience. Some states have gone so far to limit the number of passengers a young driver can have in the car to reduce the likelihood of a distraction. The advertisements showing real scenes/scenarios of people dying while texting and driving is definitely sobering. I like seeing that Verizon, AT&T and other cell phone companies have come together as a united front urging people not to text and drive. I wonder if the phone companies will come up with a way to prevent people from texting in driving, much in the same way they’ve done for GPS units which can not be accessed while the car is in motion.

  6. marithersangalang Says:

    How unfortunate that even the state’s leaders are blocking the efforts to secure the safety of motorists in Texas. The state legislators should follow the example set by the other states and should be learn the lessons from the change in the statistics of accidents, injuries and mortality secondary to the passing of anti- texting and driving bill. The ruling should not only be for younger drivers bt for the entire demographic.

  7. dmoran5 Says:

    I agree that this is an important issue and that texting should be banned while driving. I find that libertarian arguments are used far too often in the US and are often to the detriment of the health of its citizens. The public need to understand that texting while driving is not safe, and by making this a criminal offense, we would likely save many lives.

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