State of Texas to Re-Visit House Bill Prohibiting Cell Phone Use While Driving

State of Texas to Re-Visit House Bill Prohibiting Cell Phone Use While Driving
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

On February 27, the City of Pecos unanimously passed an ordinance to ban phone use while driving. Just days after, the entire state of New Mexico followed, implementing a law banning the use of handheld wireless devices while driving. Now many people are asking when will the entire Lone Star state jump on board?

According to a recent study, 171.3 billion text messages are sent every month in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says at any given daylight moment across the country, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving.

"We average 17 crashes every day here in the city limits of Odessa. There's a good chance that a lot of them are a result of distracted drivers," Steve LeSueur, Public Information Officer for the Odessa Police Department, said.

At the moment, 41 states ban text messaging for all drivers, with New Mexico joining the ranks as of March second. 12 states prohibit cell phone use all together. Texas bans the use of cell phones on school property unless it's a hands-free device. Some cities like Pecos passed ordinances to prohibit wireless devices used behind the wheel.

To put the dangers of phone use while driving in perspective, think of it this way, last year in the United States, just under 1,000 pedestrians were killed while they were texting and walking.

"If there are that many people that cannot walk and use their cell phone safely, what makes everybody think that they're going to be able to drive a 2,000 pound automobile at 60-70 miles an hour, use their cell phone and not have problems," James Beauchamp, President of Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance Inc., said.

Beauchamp says whether your phone is hands-free or not, it is equally as dangerous.

So when can we expect a state-wide law to ban use of cell phones while driving? In 2011, that bill, House Bill 63, passed through the House and Senate before it was vetoed by Governor Perry. In 2013, it was passed by the House again but did not reach the Senate. House Bill 63 will come up to bat once again during the 2015 legislative session.

"Regardless of whether it's a state law, federal law or local law. It is sending that message to folks saying this is a very dangerous time and this is a very dangerous activity," Beauchamp said.