Texas House passes bill banning texting while driving

Published: Mar. 20, 2017 at 7:05 AM CDT
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) -- In February 2015, the state of Oklahoma passed a bill banning texting while driving after Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees was killed by a driver distracted on their cell phone.

Last Thursday, the Texas House followed their lead by voting for House Bill 62 which will ban drivers from texting while driving in the state of Texas.

A bill that many Texomans agreed needed to happen.

"I don't even get on my phone when I get called so they just have to wait," resident Mary Rivers said.

"I've been where I came from Illinois. You cannot use your cell phone in any way shape or form," resident Debbie Howe said. "I come here and that's all I see is people holding their cell phone just texting away, driving and kind of going off the road a little."

Texas was one of four states that didn't have a ban on texting while driving.

The bill would make the use of a phone a misdemeanor crime that levies a penalty of a fine of $25 to $99 and even up to $200 for repeat offenders.

Officers say cell phones are a major factor in accidents on the roads.

"I know from experience and most officers would be able to tell you that most accidents are occurred by two common things: one of them being driver inattention and another one being speed," Sherman PD Sgt. D.M Hampton said.

The bill says officers are not allowed to take the phone away from the driver if they are found in violation and no points are assigned to a driver's license.

Some drivers would recommend using hands free devices as a safer alternative.

"If you have a wireless earpiece, use it," Rivers said. "Don't go on your phone flipping through there. "

"I don't even have to look at my phone because it gives me a number who's calling in so I don't have to touch my phone," Howe said.

But Sgt. Hampton says even hands free device can be dangerous.

"The best thing to do is to stay off the phone completely," Sgt. Hampton said. "And even if they're using a hands free device, you know trying to concentrate on any details or anything that someone is saying to them and paying attention to the road, anytime you divide your attention like that, it's a bad thing and you're asking to get involved in an accident."

Officers hope Texas drivers will n ow think twice before picking up their phone to answer a text.

We spoke to ten Texomans and nine out of ten agreed the bill should be passed.

The bill now heads to the senate.