Starting September 1, 2017, texting while driving will be illegal throughout the entire state after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law earlier this week.
Across the US there is widespread knowledge of the madness of Texas roads. While sometimes this is a laughable matter, other times it is not. Last year alone there were 3,773 deaths on Texas roadways. This is a 3.59% increase from 2015, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
A few important facts include that there were no deathless days on Texas road the entire year. As well as, October was the deadliest month of the year with 382 people killed, according to TDOT. Every 2 hours and 20 minutes one person was killed. Every minute and 59 seconds one person was injured. Every 57 seconds one reportable crash occurred. And in Tarrant County specifically, there were 22 fatal traffic accidents.
An analysis of the House Bill 62 says that 40 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 39 claim they text and drive. Because of this, “455 people were killed and more than 3,000 were seriously injured in crashes due to driver distraction” says a statement by James Bass, executive director of the Texas DOT. With this new law in place, drivers can still talk on the phone while driving, although there is nothing to be said about playing music or using a GPS.
Before signing this bill, Texas was among 4 states—including Arizona, Montana, and Missouri—that do not have a statewide ban on texting and driving. In 2011 a very similar bill was passed through the Legislature and then-Governor Rick Perry vetoed it claiming that the law would “micromanage the behavior of adults.”
The question we must ask is, will this law save some of our drivers? According to a 2014 University of Alabama study, there is indeed an effect of banning texting and driving. The studies found that there was a 3 percent drop in road deaths among all of the age groups in the state.
There are already laws in place that ban texting while driving through school zones and for those drivers under the age of 18. Gov, Abbott has called a special session beginning July 18 and he wants to make sure that no local laws can override the ban statewide.