Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Texting-While-Driving Bill Picks Up Steam

A bill to ban texting while driving statewide came a step closer to becoming law yesterday when legislators unanimously voted it out of the House Transportation Committee. House Bill 80 by Reps. Tom Craddick (R-Midland), Bryon Cook (R-Corsicana), Eddie Lucio III (D-Harlingen), Patricia Harless (R-Spring), and Gene Wu (D-Houston), would make it illegal for any driver in the state to text behind the wheel. Forty-four states now ban texting while driving. In Texas, 38 cities have local bans on the practice.

“I am elated House Bill 80 has been reported favorably by the committee and is moving through the legislative process,” said Representative Craddick in a written statement. “I truly believe this legislation will ultimately save lives.”

Texas physicians have long warned about the dangers of texting while driving. Distracted driving, such as texting, interferes with the primary task of driving. Our brains have a limited ability to perform more than one cognitive task at one time. When drivers’ attention is focused on something other than driving, their reaction time slows, and their driving ability is diminished. Emerging transportation research continues to highlight the serious consequences associated with distracted driving, especially related to mobile devices:

  • In 2013, more than 95,000 crashes in Texas were attributed to distracted driving, causing 460 deaths. Using a cellphone while driving increases by four times the likelihood of a crash serious enough to cause injury.
  • Texting is considered especially dangerous, as it is a manual, visual, and mental distraction. Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 miles an hour, blind.
  • Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults report talking on their cell phone while driving regularly or fairly often.  Young drivers report more crashes while using their cell phone.

Read more: House Panel Endorses Texting-While-Driving BanThe Texas Tribune

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