MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Texting while driving is a thing of the past. During Gov. Greg Abbott's press conference he announced he signed the bill banning texting while driving statewide on Tuesday. The law goes into effect Sept. 1, 2017.
The bill's author, Midland Representative Tom Craddick, said the law is long overdue and is going to save many lives.
"We had no idea he was going to put it out today, he didn't call us first," said Craddick. "I'm really excited and elated, we have a lot of people that have worked really hard. A lot of families and organizations across the state and we just want to thank them for all the help they gave us."
Craddick came up with the idea after close friends in Midland lost loved ones because someone was distracted by texting while driving, but nothing could be done to prosecute them because they hadn't broken any laws.
"It's kinda like seat belts. People look back and said, 'Well I've never worn a seat belt.' but they do today," said Craddick. "I think 95 percent of people obey the law and not everybody is going to do it, they never do but if we can get 95 percent of the people to obey it'll make our streets and our highways a whole lot safer."
The Texas Department of Transportation said nearly 500 people were killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured last year in crashes as a result of distracted driving.
This still isn't the end to the bill, hands free ordinances and ordinances banning phones altogether are still in place in several Texas cities. Gov. Greg Abbott said he wants to do away with those by making an amendment to the bill. Craddick expects a bill to be drawn up and presented during the special session starting July 18, 2017.
The fine for texting while driving is $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenders.