Lawmaker still hoping to ban texting while driving

June 7, 2012 3:08:04 AM PDT
A Massachusetts teen will spend a year in jail because of a deadly accident he caused while texting and driving. He is one of the first to be convicted under that state's new texting while driving law. The verdict comes a year after Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a statewide ban on texting and driving, but the fight over that isn't over yet.

The then 17-year-old was one of the first people convicted under a newly created charge of "texting while driving negligently and causing injury". A similar bill was authored here in Texas but failed to become law.

Texting and driving is something many still do.

"Eighty percent of my driving time includes texting. I feel it's dangerous, I've already lost a tire to texting,"driver David Stewart said.

And it's been suspected in crashes around the country. For one teen in Massachusetts, it landed him two and half years in jail for causing a fatal crash.

"Lives are being lost because of inexperienced drivers texting and talking on the phone," State Rep. Garnett Coleman said.

In Texas, Coleman has twice filled a bill banning texting and driving, but it failed to become law.

Once the bill reached Gov. Perry, he vetoed the legislation that would have taken effect last September. Perry said it was a "government effort to the behavior of adults."

"I don't text and drive, because I think it's hard to do it, like to look at the screen at the same time and drive," driver Terri Nguyen said.

It's hard to find anyone who doesn't believe texting is a distraction on the road. But not everyone is ready to a statewide ban.

"We still will do it. The problem is ... how will you be able to enforce it?" Stewart said.

"I think, just as a safe driver, you shouldn't be texting. I think it's the responsibility of the individual. I don't really know if the government should get involved with that aspect of it," driver Stefanie Garcia said.

Coleman says, thankfully, local municipalities are being more proactive.

"If it's the first offense, it probably should be a fine, but if it's the second or third offense, then that fine can go to possible jail time, with a larger fine," Coleman said.

The Massachusetts teen, now 18, faced up to four years in jail but instead received a two-and-half year with a year left to serve. He must also perform 40-hours of community service and his license is suspended for 15 years.

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