Nearly 95% of all Texans who drive have a smartphone or a cellphone. This technology causes a problem at hand because using your cellphone behind the wheel not only are you putting yourself in danger but putting other peoples lives at risk as well. In 2015, the house bill 80 was introduced and this bill would have prohibited the use of portable wireless technology while operating a motor vehicle within the state but was ultimately defeated in the senate before becoming a law.
In May of 2017, Governor Greg Abbot signed the house bill 62 which resolved the issue of the house bill 80. House Bill 62 states that the law prohibits the use of wireless communication device for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped. The House bill 62 affects everyone who can operate a motor vehicle which can prevent many accidents and deaths from happening. This bill was a huge urgency because texting while driving makes a car accident 23 times more likely to occur. This issue is important for social welfare policy by including possible license suspension from texting while driving and raising ticket prices would make individuals think twice about texting while driving.
The House Bill 62 came into law to protect drivers from preventing accidents and death from happening. The bill prohibits the driver of a motor vehicle to read, write, or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped. A first offense under this provision is punishable by a fine of $25-$99. In addition, if a violation leads to death or serious bodily injury of another person, the defendant may be subject to a class a misdemeanor punishable by a one-year sentence and a $4,000 find. Texas tried to pass a law for banning texting at least four times, but the bill got rejected.
In 2011, Texas Legislature was successful in passing a statewide ban but unfortunately (and despite overwhelming public support), it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. In 2013, a similar bill was passed with wide bipartisan support, but it died after the senate transportation committee refused to allow a vote on the bill. In 2015, another bill was aimed but it was defeated in the senate before becoming a law. There are 47 states in the U.S. which ban texting and driving and more than 30 countries that ban texting and driving. Penalties that some states have are license suspended, increased insurance costs, prison sentence, in the event of injuries or death. The House Bill 62 was developed so that there could be a decrease in accidents and deaths.
House Research Organization states that the “House Bill 62 would prohibit wireless communication device in a school crossing zone unless the vehicle is stopped, or the driver uses a hands-free device. Wireless communication device is defined as a device, such as a cell phone, that uses a commercial mobile service. “Hands-free device” is defined as a feature or attachment that allows use of the wireless communication device without use of either of the operator’s hands.” Also, HB 62 would require that any individual with a driver’s license should be tested on the knowledge and the effects of using technology while driving This would make individuals stop and think about putting themselves in harm and others.
House Research Organization also states that “the bill would prohibit seizure or inspection of a drivers cell phone by a peace officer unless it was authorized by another law and would prohibit the department of motor vehicles from assigning points to a driver’s license for a texting-while driving offense.” Some supporters say: that the “HB 62 would save lives and prevent injuries by reducing distracted driving incidents. It also would resolve confusing differences in local laws and implement common sense restrictions that are not overly burdensome.” The Texas Department of Transportation reported “that all distracted driving resulted in about 470 fatalities and more than 18,000 injuries on Texas roads in 2015, similar numbers of incidents in previous years. These are likely conservative estimates because many drivers involved in crashes are hesitant to admit they were distracted.” A 2016 study of AT&T’S wireless customers estimated that the four states without full texting-while driving bans have about a 17 percent higher rate of texting while driving than the other 46 stats. Remember that texting while driving is a personal choice, but it is also a decision that could kill or injure pedestrians and drivers. Driving has always been a privilege, and no one should have the right to text and drive.
Some major issues with House Bill 62 that opponents say (“would be in effective at improving public safety and in some cases could aggravate the effects of distracted driving. Rather than establish a government overreach into the lives of citizens, the state should instead pursue other policies to curb distracted driving and leave the issue in the hands of local jurisdictions.” A 2010 report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (“hypothesized that such laws could cause drivers to conceal their phones in their laps, reducing attention to the road and increasing accident.”) Researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“reviewed 11 other papers on texting while driving bands and found that the ultimate effect on traffic accidents and fatalities is unclear. This could be because texting while driving accounts for a relatively small percentage of distracted driving.”) HB 62 would treat texting while driving as a state issue when it is better handled at the local level. Texting while driving may be more server problem in some areas of the state than it is in others, and municipalities are in the best position to tailor these laws to address their unique circumstances.
In todays world technology has become part of our daily life. Smartphones and cellphones are always in people’s hands especially when driving. It is important for people to put their phones away especially while driving. People should also know that it is okay to ignore a phone call or text when operating a motor vehicle. I’m glad that the HB62 was placed into effect in Texas because many people were causing accidents and serious injuries were occurring because of technology being in our hands.