Texting While Driving Gets Deleted

A bill to ban texting while driving is on the governor's desk. The statewide ban will go into effect September first — unless Governor Rick Perry vetoes the measure. Laurie Johnson reports.

Texas already has a couple of texting bans in place. One law prohibits teenagers from texting or talking on phones while driving.

Another law prohibits using a handheld device while driving through school zones.

But this is the first comprehensive ban in the state. The bill prohibits composing or reading any electronic message such as a text or email while driving. Houston Mayor Annise Parker is an enthusiastic supporter of such a ban.

"A statewide ban, and I strongly urge the governor to sign it, would allow consistency across the state. And texting while driving can be just as impairing as drinking and driving."

While there's currently no ban inside Houston city limits, other municipalities have already outlawed texting while driving.
Missouri City Spokeswoman Stacie Walker says their law went into effect one year ago and carries as much as a $500 fine for violations.

"If our ban saves one life, isn't it worth doing...is basically our focus."

Walker says Missouri City police have issued six citations since the ban went into effect. Much of the first year of the ban has focused on driver education rather than punitive measures.

Mayor Parker says it could be difficult for Houston officers to enforce, but the ban is still helpful.

"Just as we do inspection stickers and seat belt enforcement, it would have to be a situation where it would be safe to obviously do that kind of enforcement. But it's more about setting the public standard, telling people what we expect — that this is dangerous."

If the governor approves the law, Texas will join 32 other states that ban texting while driving.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...