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Houston may ban texting while driving

This will likely come before City Council later this year.

Houston will consider an ordinance banning texting while driving if the Legislature again fails to enact a statewide ban, Mayor Annise Parker said Tuesday.

Parker, flanked by 30 people ranging from high school students to the fire chief, announced the official start of the city’s campaign against texting while driving.

Known as It Can Wait, Houston, the program will use social media, news media and community activism to get the word out, the mayor said.

While officials believe Houston is the first U.S. city to take on the issue with a major campaign, the local program mirrors the 3-year-old It Can Wait program started nationally by AT&T.

Noting that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the mayor characterized texting while driving as an epidemic that cuts across all communities.

“We have to change the culture that says, ‘I’m just taking my eyes off the road for a moment. It’s no big deal,’‚ÄČ” Parker said at the news conference, held in the City Hall rotunda. “But it is a big deal. It kills people.”

Here’s the Mayor’s press release, with a long list of task force members. You can see the video Mayor Parker made with rapper Bun B here – I’ll bet that’s a sentence you never expected to read. There were a number of bills to ban texting while driving filed for this legislative session, but after Rick Perry vetoed such a bill in 2011, I didn’t see the point in following them. I expect the Mayor to bring an ordinance to Council after the Lege adjourns because there won’t be a statewide law coming any time soon. West U and Bellaire already have texting while driving bans in place, as do a number of other cities including Austin and San Antonio. It’s fine by me if the city addresses this – it’s pretty common for me to see people fiddling with their phones while driving these days, and Lord knows the streets around here are adventuresome enough. Hair Balls has more.

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