AUSTIN - After passionate testimony from victims in crashes that involved texting and driving, the Texas House Transportation Committee unanimously passed through a bill that would ban texting while driving in the state.
Parents who lost loved ones in the Houston-area have been supporting the bill for years.
“I lost my child to texting and driving,” said Joyce Osborne.“You don’t want to be in this reality we live in, bereaved parents losing children to distracted driving.”
Osborne’s son, Thomas, was texting and driving on a road trip through Arizona a year ago. She’s been fighting for H.B. 62 since.
The bill, H.B. 62, would make it a crime for anyone under the age of 18 to “operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communication device, except in case of emergency.” If caught texting and driving, you could face up to a $99 fine the first time and up to $200 fine thereafter.
The bill also adds that a person under 17 may not operate a motorcycle or moped while using a wireless communication device except in case of emergency.
“It’s little (the fine)," Osborne said. "It’s a baby step but it’s an acknowledgement that there’s a problem, and something needs to be done about it."
During Thursday’s hearing, the bill had support from many including the Houston Police Department who told the committee 10,000 crashes were linked to distracted driving in 2016.
Lakeway Police called the problem of texting and driving an “epidemic” and said there would be no problems enforcing a statewide ban.
Texting while driving bans have come before the Texas Legislature four times in the past, but has not been able to garner enough support in the Texas Senate to pass.
In 2011, Governor Rick Perry vetoed a similar texting and driving bill calling it, "a government measure to micro manage the behavior of adults."
After the Transportation Committee passed the bill Thursday, it will now head to the full Texas House for a vote.
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