Houston mother pushes for law banning texting and driving

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A bill that would ban texting while driving is up for a vote in the Texas State Senate Monday. The House has already approved the measure which seeks to make texting while driving an offense punishable by fees up to $200.

Texas is one of about a half dozen states with no laws on the books yet. One mother is hoping her story will help change that.

As many mothers spent today at brunches and family gatherings, Shelli Ralls just has one last voice mail from 2008.

She says, "Luckily I got to hear him say, 'I love you mom,'" said Ralls. "I'll treasure that forever."

Ralls replaces the wreath at the site where her son, Chance Wilcox, was killed on I-45 North.

"This isn't what I should have to do on Mother's Day but this is what I do on Mother's Day," she adds as she adjusts a butterfly on the wreath.

She remembers the boy growing up who loved baseball and the young man who never had a chance to become a father. "He loved children," says Ralls.

Investigators say the young woman who struck him seven years ago was texting and lost control when she missed an entrance ramp to the freeway.

Ralls says, "I chose to get up and do something about it because if someone doesn't do something about it there's never going to be change."

The mother of the 25-year-old who lost his life has been a supporter of laws banning texting and driving. The number of accidents involving distracted drivers in Harris County has increased every year.

TxDOT says first responders have already been to more than 1,700 distracted driving crashes in Harris County this year. In 2010, there were more than 9,000. By 2014, the number had risen to more than 14,000.

West University and Bellaire have both passed ordinances banning texting and driving. Bellaire Mayor Phil Nauert says one of the challenges now is drivers passing through different jurisdictions.

Nauert says, "Traveling on that one street it's unclear where they are allowed to text and where they are not allowed to text. It makes it difficult for our Police Officers because it's a judgment call."

He adds a statewide law would eliminate that ambiguity.

"If you extend this law to the state in that big of sense, I think there's no question lives will be saved. Have we saved a life in Bellaire? I don't know because that person is still alive. I can only say, we're trying," says Mayor Nauert.

Shelli Ralls is spreading her message and says,

"Pull over to use your phone. That's all you can say."

As she spends another Mother's Day without her son, she touches the cross at the accident scene one last time and says, "That's how it ends" then walks away.
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