Somehow, this managed to happen as everything else was going on at the end of the session.
The Senate voted for a statewide ban on texting while driving Wednesday night, as an amendment added to another bill.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, added the bill as an amendment to a bill that would allow retired peace officers to carry certain firearms. The measure will now go back to the House to accept the amendments.
According to the Trib, the bill that got amended was HB242. The House had passed its own bill to ban texting while driving back in April, but it never made it to the Senate floor. That bill was HB243, and like HB242 it was authored by Rep. Tom Craddick. After the Senate passed in on Wednesday, it went to a conference committee and was passed again by the Senate on Sunday, then passed by the House before everything went crazy over SB1811.
According to a press release from Sen. Zaffirini, which is reproduced beneath the fold, the text-banning amendment is based on her bill SB46, and “would prohibit a driver from reading, writing or sending a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. Voice-operated, hands-free and GPS devices would be exempt.” Assuming this does get signed, get ready to adjust your driving habits as needed.
The Texas Senate on Wednesday (May 25) voted to approve an amendment by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, that would ban texting while driving on Texas roadways.
“Keeping Texans safe on our highways is among my top priorities in the Texas Senate,” Senator Zaffirini said. “Prohibiting texting while driving would send a clear message that this activity poses a serious danger and would undoubtedly save lives.”
The amendment, which passed with bipartisan support, is similar to Senator Zaffirini’s Senate Bill (SB) 46. The measure would prohibit a driver from reading, writing or sending a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. Voice-operated, hands-free and GPS devices would be exempt.
“Texting while driving endangers not only motorists, but also passengers, pedestrians and highway workers,” Senator Zaffirini said. “No text message or e-mail is important enough to risk injury or death on the road.”
Studies have shown that texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than non-distracted driving and comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. What’s more, one study found that drivers who text messaged while driving took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds within a six-second interval (NCSL). This is the same as traveling the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour without looking.
At least ten cities, including San Antonio, Austin and El Paso, have passed local ordinances to prohibit sending, reading, or writing a text message while operating a moving motor vehicle.