Texas is famous for its fierce independence, but it appears that legislators are finally getting the message about texting and driving.
The Texas House recently passed a law that would criminalize distracted driving, with fines of up to $200 per offense. We’ve been here before-similar bills have failed in the past-but it’s an increasingly lonely crowd that’s proud of not having a statewide law on the books. (Texas is one of only four states without protections against distracted driving.)
More than 100 Lone Star cities have already passed some kind of texting-and-driving ban, but statewide legislation would create needed clarity.
More importantly, it may give a little more relief to those who’ve lost a loved one, or who have been injured themselves, by distracted drivers.
And make no mistake, distracted driving is a Texas-sized problem. We’re still well above the national average for automobile fatalities. And nearly one out of every five accidents in Texas involves distracted driving.
We all shudder at those horrific cases, such as the 13 folks on a church bus outside San Antonio, but there are countless other people whose lives have been utterly changed because someone decided that Tweet couldn’t wait. Some officials estimate that up to 100,000 Texas crashes per year involve distracted drivers.
Jaws may drop at the size of some jury verdicts or the high-profile defendants, but the truth is, it’s hard to recover damages in front of jury. In any case, ask yourself: how much would you accept to bury your loved one, or to walk with a cane for the rest of your life?
There’s nothing wrong with Texas exceptionalism. But we all want to be exceptional for the right reasons.