In a very rare showing of bipartisanship, Texas lawmakers are working hard to come together to craft a statewide ban on texting while driving. The push is being led by Republican State Representative Tom Craddick.
This is much needed legislation. I’ve often commented about the number of tragedies we see in our practice because of texting while driving. Those anecdotal problems are backed up by the studies. Study after study finds that texting while driving is dangerous, even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. (You can see links to some of those studies/articles here.)
Unfortunately, Governor Perry stands as the roadblock in this effort to reduce those deaths. During the last legislative session, the two parties came together to pass a state-wide ban on texting while driving only to have Governor Perry veto the law. And this week, after many parents who had lost their kids to texting while driving accidents spent the day testifying about their losses, Governor Perry’s spokesman came out saying that the Governor still opposes this effort to save lives.
It is apparently the Governor’s position that the key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and eduction, not a law. With all due respect, I think that’s ridiculous. First, as far as I know, Governor Perry hasn’t proposed any way that we’re going to increase the information or education being provided to drivers. Second, we’ve proven that education and information doesn’t work. Texting while driving information is provided as part of driver’s ed curriculum; schools host educational events about the dangers of texting while driving; we’ve had public service announcements about texting while driving. And yet, the problem and the deaths continue to rise.
On the other hand, long term empirical evidence shows that regulations like this ban help save lives. Seat belt laws save lives. Driving while intoxicated laws save lives. And a texting while driving ban would save lives, if Governor Perry would ever allow it.