Texas Governor Signs Texting-and-Driving Ban into Law, But Wants to Go Further
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Texas Governor Signs Texting-and-Driving Ban into Law, But Wants to Go Further

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has signed a bill that imposes a statewide ban on texting and driving, but also has convened a special legislative session to create broader state regulation of mobile devices in vehicles.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has signed a bill that imposes a statewide ban on texting and driving.

Texas House Bill 62, which takes effect Sept. 1, makes texting while driving a misdemeanor offense carrying a fine ranging from $25 to $99. Repeat offenders will face a fine up to $200.

The Property Casualty Insurance Association lauded Abbott for signing the bill and Rep. Tom Craddick and Sen. Judith Zaffirini for their efforts to shepherd a texting-and-driving ban through the Texas Legislature.

“Insurers believe this bill will save lives on Texas roads,” said Joe Woods, vice president of state government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. “By making texting while driving a primary offense, law enforcement can pull over drivers who are seen using their devices while driving. This law will now hold people accountable for their actions and hopefully prevent more fatal crashes.”

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HB 62 includes a provision that pre-empts local ordinances “relating to the use of a portable wireless communication device by the operator of a motor vehicle to read, write or send an electronic message.” However, Abbott said that doesn’t go far enough, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

“Now that Texas does have a statewide ban on texting and driving, I am calling for legislation that fully pre-empts cities and counties from any regulation of mobile devices in vehicles,” Abbott said. “We don’t need a patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.”

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Abbott has called a special legislative session beginning July 18 that will address a number of issues, including his desire for broader state regulation of mobile devices in vehicles.

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