Texas Lawmakers Consider State Distracted Driving Bills

If you’re used to juggling phone calls and emails during your drive to work, you may have to come up with another way to multi-task soon. Several states have passed laws making it illegal for people to fumble around with their mobile phones while driving, regardless of their age. Texas isn’t one of them, but that could change soon. Members of the Texas House of Representatives are considering bills that would make texting and emailing while driving illegal.

Joel Cooper is a researcher with the Texas Transportation Institute. He testified before the House committee on the dangers of texting while driving.

“Text messaging turns out to be a perfect combination, the perfect storm, if you will, of those three distraction types: it’s both a cognitive task, you have to think about it, you have to look down at your device, and manipulate it with your hands. So because of that it’s not really surprising that the data are suggesting that text messaging is so dangerous.”

State Representative Tom Craddick suggested combining four of the bills into one that would ban texting while driving. Another bill, introduced by Representative Jose Menendez would ban both texting and talking on the phone behind the wheel. Charmane Walden is with the National Safety Council’s Texas Chapter. She says both texting and talking on phones should be outlawed.

“People who text and also talk on the phone, they might look ahead and see street signs and see other cars, but cognitively they only process about half of what they see. So we’re in support of eliminating cell phones while driving.”

Mobile phone use while driving is particularly prevalent among younger drivers. A poll out this week found that 63 percent of drivers under 30 admitted to using a wireless device while driving in the last month.
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