Two years ago, the state Legislature passed a bill that outlawed texting while driving. But Gov. Perry, saying it would “micromanage the behavior of adults,” vetoed it.
While lawmakers are now again contemplating a statewide ban, Mayor Parker says she will go ahead and introduce a local statute if she has to.
“If it does not get passed and signed into law, I am prepared to begin the discussion with City Council about a local ordinance. I have ordinance in draft form if we need to do that. I’d prefer to see something happen at the state level.”
Parker says a ban won’t solve the problem of texting while driving; although, it would help. More important than a law is education, she says. For that reason the City of Houston has joined AT&T’s nationwide “It Can Wait” campaign, which aims to educate people about the dangers of texting while driving.
One part of the campaign is a public service announcement featuring Parker and local rapper Bun B.
Bun B: “And not only are you endangering your own life; you could also kill or hurt other people. Come on, it can wait, man.”
Parker: “Remember: Don’t text and drive.”
Bun B: “It can wait, Houston.”
Some professional Houston sports teams and major cable providers have agreed to broadcast the PSA.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says not only texting but all forms of distracted driving can kill.
“One second taking our eyes of the road. The two, three seconds you think that it’s taking you to send a text is essentially the fuse being lit on taking someone’s life. Do not let that be a burden that you will have to carry for the rest of your life.”
Parker says what is needed is a cultural change similar to when drinking and driving and not wearing a seatbelt first started to be widely recognized as unacceptable.
“Well, we have something that can save lives. We know that a public campaign changing the cultural attitudes can make a difference just as it did with drinking and driving, just as it did with the buckle-up campaigns on putting seatbelts on.”
According to research by AT&T about half of commuters nationwide admit to texting and driving and 4 in 10 of those say it’s a habit.
House Bill 63 filed by State Rep. Tom Craddick would make it a misdemeanor to read, write and send text messages or e-mails while driving in Texas. A first-time offense would be punishable by a fine of up to $100.