Texting While Driving Will be Illegal Statewide as of September 1

Gov. Abbott on Tuesday signed a law banning the receiving, sending, or reading of a text message while driving, but the Governor immediately said it doesn't go far enough, and placed the issue on the agenda for the July 18th Special Session, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"By enacting this public safety legislation, the governor is saving lives by deterring this dangerous and deadly behavior," said State Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) who has been fighting for this law for six years.

Then Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a similar item following the 2013 session, saying it was i'micromanaging the rights of adult Texans.'

AAA Texas also praised the bill, saying Texas was one of only four states which did not have a statewide ban on texting while driving on the books.

"This new law will make Texas drivers safer by prohibiting the dangerous and often deadly practice of texting while driving, and it will ensure that there is one uniform law throughout the state," AAA Texas Vice President Linda von Quintus said.

The law takes effect September 1, and carries a fine of up to $99 for first time offenders.

Supporters of the measure, like Craddick, pointed out that the current patchwork of bills, which currently exist, is confusing and detrimental to enforcement.  Drivers go from cities, which have robust bans, to counties which have no ban, and to smaller cities which have less strict rules about what driver can and can't do behind the wheel.

But Abbott says he wants language added to the bill that would stress that the state law will nullify all local laws, meaning the same law would apply in all jurisdictions statewide.

The San Antonio law, which has been on the books for two years, for example, is far more strict than the state law. It bans all use of hand held cell phones, not only texting, but talking on the phone and using the phone to check GPS directions while driving.

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