AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas lawmaker is continuing her decade-long journey to get Texas drivers’ eyes off of their phones and on the road.
- Texting while driving outlawed last session
- Lawmaker wants to expand legislation
- If passed, would override local ordinances
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, led the effort to get texting while driving outlawed across the state last session, but said that bill was significantly watered down. She pointed to the fact that you can still text while stopped in bumper to bumper traffic.
"That is one of the exceptions that's been made. That if you're stopped for 30 minutes, you can text during that time," said Zaffirini.
Zaffirini is once again pushing for hand-held phone use of any kind to be against the law from one end of Texas to the other.
"Just hands-free, instead of not using a cell phone for certain purposes," said Zaffirini.
If Zaffirini's bill passes, it would take effect in September. Drivers caught using their devices without hands-free technology would be ticketed and fined. Lots of cities throughout Texas already have such additional regulations in place. If passed, Zaffirini's bill would override those.
While critics have called it an overreach of government into people's lives and hard to enforce, drivers we spoke with said it's a bill they support.
"It definitely should be enforced sooner than later," said one Texas driver.
James Henderson said he does his best to keep his cellphone locked while he's behind the wheel, but said he witnesses others eyeing their phones on a daily basis.
"And I think they're focusing on what they're doing in terms of texting or listening to someone or watching a video," said Henderson.
Whether it's texting or navigating, AAA statistics show drivers are up to eight times more likely to be involved in a car crash if they’reusing their phones.