Texting and driving caused 100,000 accidents in the United States last year, but some Lubbock city officials are considering a plan that could prevent them.
The state of Texas has proposed bills to make it illegal to text and drive throughout the state, but Governor Perry has vetoed them, leaving it up to the cities to make their own decisions. There is a state regulation that bans cell phone use by drivers in active school zones, but beyond that, cell phone use is not banned while driving in Texas.
With the matter left in the hands of city government, the Lubbock City Council is taking action.
"I think it's an issue we need to discuss. I don't think anybody can deny that we do have an issue with texting while driving and it's caused numerous deaths here locally and statewide," Mayor Robertson said. "The Governor is not willing to allow a bill to go through so I think as a city we need to look at the issue."
Mayor Robertson believes that a law needs to be passed at the state level for consistency, and that with a growing number of cities in Texas passing a ban on texting and driving it may happen sooner rather than later.
As far as its passage locally there are still some questions that need to be answered. Will it save lives? How will it be enforced? Robertson doesn't expect it to be passed anytime soon.
"You have to see a driver texting to be able to enforce the law, I think where it could really come into effect, where the law might have the most impact, would be after an accident, because you have a law on the books that says it's illegal to text and drive. If you have an accident where it can be proven you're texting and driving during it, then you can protect your citizens," he said.
City councilman Victor Hernandez says, "Amarillo just banned the use of cell phones while driving, taking it a step further than what some in Lubbock, including myself, are talking about."
The leading proposal in Lubbock would only ban texting while driving, not all cell phone use by a driver. This would make Lubbock one of 23 other cities that have such a law including Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Universal City and Brownsville.
Alejandra Arango is AT&T's spokesperson for the North Texas region. She says AT&T is doing everything they can to save people's lives.
Arango says, "Everyone thinks it's not going to happen to me, or...it's only two seconds, well it's only three seconds and let me tell you what's scary about those seconds. On average when people are driving at 65 miles per hour, three seconds of not looking at what they're doing when they're driving is the length of a football field. Would you drive down a football field with your eyes blinded for three seconds, with all sorts of obstacles? No."
"People who are texting and driving are 23 times more likely to get into an accident," she said.
AT&T is starting to fight technology with technology.
"We've developed a drive mode app. which is a free app. Basically you turn it on and it sends all your text messages, your calls - whatever you program it to do - it sends everything into a queue while you're driving and as soon as you turn it off it comes back and you get all your messages."
They are also working on a way for parents to tell exactly what their children are doing with their phone while they are driving to try and prevent texting and driving deaths among teens.
If the law passes, Mayor Robertson admitted that signage would need to be put up around Lubbock informing people driving in that it is a text free zone, but he is not sure how much that will cost.
Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.