AUSTIN, Texas - The fourth time could be the charm for a statewide law that would ban texting while driving.
House Bill 62 was passed by the Senate by a vote of 23 to 8.
The bill’s author, Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, says it’s an important landmark for public safety.
“I’m elated obviously after four times of having to introduce it,” said Craddick. “We’re elated to get it done. We think it’s going to be a real positive for drivers across the whole state of Texas.”
But the bill’s approval in the Senate didn’t happen without contention from some lawmakers. Senator Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, pushed for an amendment that would require police to witness a driver texting in addition to corroborating evidence.
“It’s good to make sure that we encourage people to use them in a safe manner, but a lot of these people aren’t going to quit using these devices because we make it a law,” said Taylor.
Those opposed to the amendment argued it would make it impossible to enforce.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, used the bus crash in Uvalde that killed 13 people as an example.
“He was seen by another driver, not by a police officer, so that texting offense would, under this law, would not be an offense because it was not seen by a police officer,” Zaffirini said.
The amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 19 to 12.
Now, the bill awaits the governor’s signature.
“If this saves the life of one teenager, one teenager who decides I’ll wait till I’m at the stoplight and then I’ll text, then we will accomplish what we needed to accomplish,” said Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.
For the families who lost a loved one, they’re the reason why lawmakers kept fighting for this bill.
“We had all these people who didn’t come once but have continued to come back and testify about their losses,” Craddick said. “It’s difficult for them to do that and they were passionate. We wouldn’t have passed it without those people, and I really want to thank them for their help.”