Texas Legislative Issues/News: Texting while driving is considered one of the most dangerous things one can do while behind the wheel. In 2016, the CDC estimated that at least eight people were killed and over 1,000 people were injured because of distracted driving. Texting on a handheld device while behind the wheel is considered one of the primary causes of distracted driving. The Texas Department of Transportation noted that nearly 110,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving in Texas during 2016, resulting in 450 deaths and 3,000 serious injuries.
Despite the above facts, safety groups in Texas had to fight a decade-long battle to have a law passed prohibiting texting while driving. Such a law was finally passed in the regular session of the Texas Legislature recently concluded and has been signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. Texas is thus one of the last states to pass such a prohibition. A previous law making texting while driving illegal passed the Texas Legislature in 2011 but was vetoed by then Governor Rick Perry.
Jake Posey, attorney with The Posey Law Firm, P.C., noted the new anti-texting while driving law makes the practice punishable by a $99 fine for the first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses, according to the NBC TV affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth. The law prohibits the use of a device to read, write, or send an electronic message while driving. The use of a device for navigation or music is still allowed by law. Before the state-wide law, several dozen Texas cities forbade texting while driving. The new law goes into effect September 1, 2017.
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