Texas Rep. Tom Craddick (Midland) has filed House Bill 63, also known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act, which would make it illegal to text and drive in the state of Texas. Under the new bill, a person would get a ticket for reading, writing or sending a text-based communication, including text messages and email.
Jeanne Brown says it's time for Texas to act, but only if it can be effective.
"I would love to see Texas have a law in place, but I don't want to pass a ban just to pass something. I want it to be something that can be enforced by our law enforcement officers," Brown said.
Jeanne and her husband Johnny Mac know firsthand the pain that comes from texting and driving. Their daughter Alex was killed in November 2009 on her way to school. Jeanne says people need to make the smart decision to save lives.
"This is where common sense kicks in. If the decisions I make in my vehicle put your life in danger then where does my freedom end and your freedom to be safe begin?" Jeanne said. " Me choosing to text and drive is putting your life in danger because I'm not paying attention. I'm weaving across the road and I'm speeding up and slowing down and it's not safe."
This is the second time Tom Craddick has proposed such a bill. The first version was passed in 2011 with an amendment that reading a text message would not be a fine, but ultimately it was vetoed by Governor Perry. Johnny Mac Brown views it as a blessing in disguise.
"The way it was written, it wasn't enforceable by officers on the streets and highways. There were too many ifs. I think it's better to ban basically what I think is typing. If you're typing, that's going to be illegal," he said.
Jeanne will be heading down to Austin on Tuesday to meet up with other families who have been affected by texting and driving. They're going to visit state senators and representatives, educating them and helping them to understand the dangers of texting while behind the wheel of a car. Texas would be the 40th state to pass a statewide texting and driving ban, but Johnny Mac feels Texas should take it one step farther.
"If you're going to do it, I think you ought to just ban cell phone use, period. You know that talking with the phone up to your ear is a ticket and talking to yourself with both hands on the wheel is not. It's not hard to understand, very black and white," he said.
People who text while they are behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to get in an accident, compared to 4 times more likely with a blood alcohol level of .08. The National Safety Council says 1,600,000 accidents a year are caused because of drivers who text. Johnny Mac says something needs to change.
"It's just ridiculous the amount of people that are dying," Johnny said. "The pain of losing a child - I don't care if they're two or 50 the pain is indescribable, especially when it doesn't have to happen and is so preventable. That's the reason we do what we do. We don't want people to have to go through the pain of a senseless death."
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