Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure banning texting while driving statewide. Under HB 62, drivers who text, send email or post to social media while driving would face a fine of up to $99 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses. The measure penalizes texting while driving a moving car; drivers in an idle or parked car could still use their phones to send texts. The ban would not apply to using one’s phone as a GPS or music device. The legislation was supported by the insurance industry.
In a statement, Joe Woods, vice president, state government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said the bill “will save lives on Texas roads. By making texting while driving a primary offense, law enforcement can pull over drivers who are seen using their devices while driving. This law will now hold people accountable for their actions and hopefully prevent more fatal crashes.”
Wood said there has been dramatic increase in the number of auto accidents over the past two years, which “could impact consumers’ insurance costs. The recent spike in the number of auto accidents resulting from distracted driving comes at a time when repair, labor, medical and other costs associated with accidents are also rising. We need to change driver behavior, and we believe that toughening the distracted driving laws will save lives by encouraging people to think twice about picking up the phone while driving.”