Houston Matters

Do Texting and Driving Bans Really Help Reduce Fatalities?

After hours of sometimes heated debate Wednesday, the Texas House passed a bill that would ban texting while driving across the state of Texas. The bill allows police to pull over and fine motorists suspected of using a wireless device to read, write or send a text message while driving — unless the vehicle is […]

After hours of sometimes heated debate Wednesday, the Texas House passed a bill that would ban texting while driving across the state of Texas. The bill allows police to pull over and fine motorists suspected of using a wireless device to read, write or send a text message while driving — unless the vehicle is stopped. A similar measure passed both houses four years ago, but was vetoed by then Gov. Rick Perry.

A study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health looked at the impact of texting bans on motor vehicle fatalities over a ten year period across 48 states. It found traffic fatalities fell by 3 percent in states with bans like the one that just passed the Texas House, but more dramatically among younger drivers — an 11 percent reduction among 15-21 year-olds. This reinforces the perception that younger drivers are at greater risk of ending up in an accident due to distracted driving.

We learn about other efforts to discourage distracted driving among younger drivers in Greater Houston. And we welcome your questions for the Houston-Galveston Area Council‘s Alan Clark, Lisa Kyle from the Youth Transportation Safety Program at Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute, and Herbie Martinez, a sales manager with Univision, who began speaking out on this topic after his son died in a distracted driving accident in 2011.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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