Texas lawmakers move closer to banning texting while driving

“If this saves the life of one teenager, one teenager who decides I’ll wait till I’m at the stoplight and then I’ll text, then we will accomplish what we needed to accomplish”, said Sen.

Abrams said he became an advocate for banning texting and driving after his grandson was hit and killed by a distracted driver within feet of his own house waiting on the sidewalk for the ice cream man.

The bill now heads to Governor Abbott’s desk.

Photo illustration for news story on texting while driving laws, photographed Friday, July 10, 2015, in the parking lot of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.

The statewide ban, which doesn’t address speaking on a hand-held phone, doesn’t supersede stricter local ordinances, such as the one in Austin where nearly all use of a hand-held phone by someone driving a moving vehicle is prohibited.

The amendment ultimately failed with a 12-19 vote. The next two sessions it was voted out of the House but died in the Senate.

A statewide texting-while-driving ban, after running into legislative and gubernatorial roadblocks in the past four legislative sessions, cleared the Texas Senate on Friday and appears to be on the way to passage.

“We had all these people who didn’t come once but have continued to come back and testify about their losses”, Craddick said.

Much of the Senate gathered around Zaffirini after the vote to give her handshakes and hugs. After lingering for about 15 minutes, he mouthed “thank you” to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and walked out.

The Senate version of the bill is slightly different than what the House passed, but Craddick worked with the Senator Zaffirini to draft the Senate version and said he will concur with the changes. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, that Zaffirini said would have “gutted the bill” and caused its defeat when it returns to the House for a final vote.

“It feels great”, he said. “It’s a relief to get it done”.

He added that he expects Abbott to sign the bill. He hasn’t had direct communication with the governor’s office about its plans but said that Abbott told acquaintances in Midland he planned to sign the bill during a recent visit.

Rep. Craddick and the advocates for the bill said they do think it will make a difference and help save lives.