Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoes statewide ban on texting while driving
Saying he doesn’t want to “micromanage the behavior of adults,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry has vetoed legislation that would have banned texting while driving in the Lone Star State.
House Bill 242 was approved by the Texas House and Senate during the regular 2011 session of the state Legislature, which ended in late May. The measure was sponsored by former House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, along with state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio; state Rep. Raul Torres, R-Corpus Christi; and state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy.
|Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he vetoed a ban on texting while driving because it was an “overreach.”|
In his veto message, Perry wrote: “Texting while driving is reckless and irresponsible. I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”
Bill was an ‘overreach,’ Perry says
Perry noted that state law already prohibits drivers under age 18 from texting or using a cellphone while driving.
“I believe there is a distinction between the overreach of House Bill 242,” Perry wrote, “and the government’s legitimate role in establishing laws for teenage drivers who are more easily distracted and laws providing further protection to children in school zones.”
Perry recommended stepping up knowledge about texting while driving through driver’s education programs and public service ads.
“The keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education,” the governor wrote.
Craddick says he’s sorry that Perry vetoed the texting-while-driving ban, “but I’m sure he had his reasons.” The ban would have been “another tool for law enforcement to save lives of people on the highways of Texas and the streets of Texas,” Craddick told the San Antonio Express-News.
Consequences of distracted driving
Distracted driving — including texting while driving — was reported in one-fifth of U.S. injury accidents in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed and another 448,000 were injured in crashes linked to distracted driving.
A poll conducted in October 2010 for InsuranceQuotes.com found that 39 percent of licensed U.S. drivers age 18 and above had sent or received a text message while driving.
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Among states that recently have enacted bans are Indiana, Maine and Nevada.
“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting, but unfortunately, laws aren’t always enough,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in 2009. “We’ve learned from past safety awareness campaigns that it takes a coordinated strategy combining education and enforcement to get results.”