But the unanswered question is, does Texas NEED a statewide ban on distracted driving? More than a few people who live in the state, especially those engaged in public safety work, say, “yes” and they have the statistics which they say proves their point.
These individuals point to the effectiveness of cell phone bans in New York and California; the lives they save and the fines they collect which have helped increase state revenue, as evidence of their effectiveness.
New York’s 2010 accident rates seem miniscule compared to Texas’ cellphone accident rates. That same year in the Lone Star state, 46 people lost their lives in cellphone-related crashes and nearly 3,400 accidents were caused by cellphone use.
Texas has some of the most lenient cellphone laws in the country. In Texas, texting while driving and hand-held cellphone use is legal for all drivers except for novice drivers in their first year of licensure and school bus drivers with passengers under the age of 17.
While Texans appreciate the state’s culture of individual freedom, the use of electronic devices leads to distraction behind the wheel and puts other drivers and road users in danger. What’s more, lack of state cellphone laws also means the state misses out on crucial funding opportunities.
In New York, each cellphone offense results in a fine of $150; in California, the base fine for a first offense is $20 and subsequent offenses are $50. These fines increase when penalties are assessed. These fines add up and contribute funding that can be used to improve infrastructure and other state needs.