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Texas texting ban bill spiked and declared dead

Texting-while-driving is recognized as a serious problem in most of the country. A good number of individual cities in Texas share the concern of most states and have passed local measures to control this form of potentially deadly distraction.

As we noted back in April, several efforts have been made to try to get a statewide ban on texting passed in the Texas Legislature and another was being launched this year. The question posed in that post was whether, after two previous failures, whether the third time would be the charm. And as we learned late last month, the answer is no.

House Bill 80 flew through the House in late March on a vote of 104-39. That put the ball in the Senate's court and despite efforts by the measure's chief sponsor, that chamber failed to muster the votes required to even bring the bill up for floor debate. And the session has since adjourned.

Jennifer Smith, whose mother died in 2008 at the hands of a distracted driver in Oklahoma, had lobbied for the measure this year and says she's saddened by the failure. She says it means many more lives will be lost before the question can be taken up again next year.

Under existing law, drivers younger than 18 and all drivers in school zones are banned from using cellphones. The measure that died in this session would have made it a misdemeanor statewide to use any portable wireless device for reading, writing or texting while driving.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, distracted driving was a factor in more than 100,000 traffic accidents in the state in 2014. Individuals suffered serious injury or death in thousands of them.

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