Texas is one of four states that have not completely outlawed texting and driving. Even Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned it.
We wanted to know: why doesn’t Texas follow the herd?
Since 2011, Representative Tom Craddick (R) has authored a texting and driving bill three times. His bills have either been vetoed or sat on, and this year, he’s proposing a ban again.
A texting driver killed 25-year-old Chance Wilcox in 2008. His mom, Shell Ralls, has supported Craddick’s legislation for years.
“You have no reason or right, while driving, to take your eyes off the road,” Ralls said.
Ralls was paying close attention to Craddick’s texting and driving ban push in 2011. Former Texas Governor, Rick Perry, vetoed the legislation calling it a, “government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”
Perry explained education and information are strong options to combat texting-and-driving-related accidents.
KHOU 11 News did some digging and found out the state of Texas has spent $2,668,434.49 on the Talk.Text.Crash Campaign from 2014 to 2015. The funds for this program are federal funds received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s website, the campaign raises awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving and encourages Texans to put down their cell phones while driving.
Diving into the state’s data we found out four more key distracted driving statistics:
In 2014 there were 101,024 crashes and 482 fatalities.
In 2015 there were 106,001 crashes and 479 fatalities.
A state spokesperson warned more people driving on Texas roads could affect the distracted driving numbers. Also, not all distracted driving crashes involve texting and driving, all forms of distracted driving are lumped together.
Without statistics showing that texting and driving accidents and deaths are declining, KHOU 11 News asked Representative Craddick, what’s keeping Texas from joining 46 other states with complete bans?
“We’ve got kind of a libertarian caucus over there that thinks you’re taking away people’s rights when you’re saying you can’t text,” Craddick said.
In November, Craddick will send another ban bill to the legislature with the same message that Ralls has been sending for 8 years.
“Sooner or later it’s going to happen to them,” Ralls said. “It’s only a matter of time until they kill themselves or kill someone else.”
So what can you do about it? Call, email, write or fax your local lawmaker to tell them what you want in your state.
(© 2016 KHOU)