Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Tuesday that prohibits texting while driving in Texas, ending a decade-long effort by safety advocates to reduce potentially deadly driver distractions on the road.
Texas will become one of the last states to adopt some kind of texting-while-driving ban when the law takes effect Sept. 1, 2017. Texting would be punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses. According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, Arizona, Missouri and Montana will be the only states without a texting-while-driving ban.
Dozens of Texas cities already ban texting while driving. The state law covers texting only and prohibits the use of hand-held phones to "read, write or send an electronic message" while driving. Other Internet use for navigation or music programs is allowed.
Safety advocates have been pressing for the texting ban for years. Texas lawmakers had already passed a ban in 2011, but it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry at the time.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 109,658 traffic crashes related to distracted driving in the state in 2016, resulting in 3,000 serious injuries and 455 deaths.
Source: Associated Press/The Huntsville Item