Texas remains one of just a handful of states without some sort of ban on distracted driving. State lawmakers have repeatedly resisted efforts to enact a statewide ban on the use of handheld devices by drivers, instead allowing individual communities to pass laws pertaining only to drivers in their area. This has led to a patchwork of distracted driving laws around the state, some more severe than others, and still some areas with no laws limiting distracted driving at all.

Now it appears Texas state legislators are taking another look at a statewide ban on distracted driving. Their efforts were likely spurred by numerous driver complaints and petitions signed by residents throughout the state.

There is a wealth of evidence from both the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the risk of having a vehicle collision is greatly increased when a driver is distracted. Both these groups also found a direct connection between most distracted driving crashes and the drivers use a handheld device. This evidence was enough to prompt most states to immediately amend state law to forbid drivers from engaging in overtly dangerous behaviors such as texting while driving, or surfing the web or updating their social media networks. Other states have gone as far as forbidding drivers from talking on their cell phones while driving without a hands-free device (such as Bluetooth) while still others have forbidden the use of a cell phone for any reason while driving.

There has been some debate about whether or not distracted driving is now actually more dangerous than drunk driving, but nobody argues that it is dangerous and that the number of vehicle collisions linked to distracted driving have increased tremendously in the last few years.

It will take months for Texas legislators to work out the details of what sort of state law they propose and then the issue will need to be approved by both houses and go before the governor before it is enacted. Until then Texas drivers will need to take their chances and be aware of the local laws in the areas where they are driving so they don’t run afoul of a municipal law meant to fill the gap where state law lacks.