Senate Approves Texting-While-Driving Ban

The Texas Senate approved a measure this evening that would ban texting and sending e-mails and instant messages while driving.

The Texas Senate approved a measure this evening that would ban texting and sending emails and instant messages while driving.

The measure by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was added to HB 242, a bill that would give retired peace officers permission to carry a concealed handgun without a concealed handgun license.

Zaffirini said texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than non-distracted driving and 17 times more dangerous than just talking on the phone while driving. "This is one of these opportunities we have to save lives," Zaffirini said. "The life you save could be that of a person you love dearly."

State Sens. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, and Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, opposed the ban, saying it was too much government intrusion. Hegar wondered aloud if lawmakers would next try to ban burgers and sodas in the car. "The question is what do we ban people from doing in their cars?" he asked.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, said he opposed government expansion, but that if Texas lawmakers can approve bills that deal with noodling (hand-fishing for catfish), picking up reptiles on the side of the road and other seemingly trivial things, banning texting while driving seemed appropriate. "I'm guilty of texting and driving, and on several occasions I've almost had a wreck," he said, adding that his son did have a wreck while texting. "This is the kind of government we need to protect our children."

The bill must return to the House for approval of the Senate changes.

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