Very dramatic testimony today as the Texas Legislature, for the fifth time in the last decade, started work on a bill to ban most cell phone use while driving anywhere in the state, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The House State Affairs Committee opened the hearing with testimony from two men who had a family member killed on the highway due to the distractions of texting while behind the weel.Mike Myers of Austin tearfully recalled his his daughter died when she sent a simple text while she was driving home from Texas Tech University.
"My daughter had look away from the road, lost control, panicked, hit the brakes hard, and flipped the car off the side of the road," he recalled.' Elana was dead before anyone could get to her."
James Shaffer of Denton told a story about a young mother who sent a text to her husband as she and their toddler daughter were returning home on night.
"That vehicle hit my wife's vehicle head on," he said. "At which time, it killed my wife, and our daughter, and it also killed her and her daughter. All over sending a text message while driving."
Several lawmakers said the statewide ban is needed because of the confusing patchwork of municipal laws on the subject in cities across the state. One lawmaker said if he drives between Lubbock and Amarillo, he will encounter five separate laws regulating texting and cell phone use while driving.
Previous attempts to create a statewide ban have failed amid concerns about government overreach and attempts to infringe on the rights of drivers. A bill passed the Legislature in 2013 but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry for that reason.
This bill, introduced by State Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) includes exceptions for emergencies, for hands free devices, and for the use of cell phone GPS systems.