In an ongoing effort to educate drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently launched its annual "Talk, Text, Crash" campaign aimed at encouraging drivers to not text while driving, a message that can never be repeated enough, according to attorney Gene S. Hagood, founder of the Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood in Houston.
"The timing of this educational program could not be more appropriate," Hagood said. "We're just entering the summer driving season, when more people will be hitting the road for family outings and vacations. It's also the time of year (July and August) when more fatal car accidents statistically occur every year. But what makes this educational campaign even more timely is the recent decision to not ban texting while driving statewide in Texas. State lawmakers recently failed for the third time in four years to pass a statewide texting while driving ban. That's why it's more important than ever for the Texas Department of Transportation's message to be heard loud and clear - that texting and driving can often be a very dangerous combination."
Officials from the TxDOT have been traveling around the state in recent weeks to educate drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, according to The Daily Toreador and other news outlets. As part of the educational campaign, officials from the TxDOT have been encouraging drivers to put away mobile devices while driving in Texas. (The Daily Toreador, "Talk, Text, Crash: Texas Department of Transportation begins annual campaign," June 25, 2015)
"It's important to us because approximately one in five traffic accidents in Texas is caused by distracted driving, and we don't see any improvement in this problem," Dianah Ascencio, public information officer for TxDOT, said, according to The Daily Toreador.
In 2014, more than 100,000 distracted driving accidents occurred in Texas, an increase of 6 percent compared to 2013, according to Ascencio. Such accidents resulted in 483 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries in 2014, Ascencio said, according to The Daily Toreador.
Texting while driving is against the law in certain cities in Texas but there is no statewide ban outlawing texting while driving. Texas lawmakers recently came close to passing a law that would have banned texting while driving. But Texas state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, lead a group of state Senators in successfully blocking a vote House Bill 80 (HB-80), which would have banned texting while driving statewide, according to The Texas Tribune and The Austin Statesman. (The Texas Tribune, "Texting Bill's Demise a Victory for Tea Party Freshmen," June 26, 2015) (The Austin Statesman, "Texting-while-driving ban falls short again in Legislature," May 28, 2015) Similar proposals to ban texting while driving statewide in Texas were defeated in 2011 and 2013.
Hagood hopes state lawmakers have better luck two years from now passing a similar proposal to ban texting while driving statewide. "Study after study has clearly shown that texting while driving can be extremely dangerous," Hagood said. "That's why I sincerely hope law makers do everything they can to pass similar legislation statewide in 2017. In the meantime, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth should strongly consider following the example set by San Antonio, Austin and other communities that have laws on the books banning texting while driving. Houston hasn't enacted a similar ban. Hopefully, officials here will decide to do that. If not, we should sincerely applaud the efforts of the Texas Department of Transportation for making more people aware about of the dangers of texting while driving."