Texting and driving law goes into effect Friday

Texting and driving law goes into effect Friday
Alex Brown (Source: KCBD Video)
Alex Brown (Source: KCBD Video)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Texting and Driving law goes into effect on Friday, September 1. This law signed by Governor Greg Abbott last month will replace local restrictions that some cities already had in place.

House Bill 62, also known as the Alex Brown Memorial Act, was spearheaded by a mother right here on the South Plains after she lost her daughter to texting and driving in 2009.

Troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety say starting Friday they will be on the look out for drivers on their phones. If an officer sees you on your phone while you're on the road, you can be ticketed.

The law, which means a driver will no longer be able to send an electronic message while driving, would be punishable by a fine of up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses. DPS says if you're ticketed, it will be a Class C misdemeanor.

Texting and driving has become a serious problem in the state.  According to DPS, in 2016, there were more than 100,000 distracted driving crashes in the state of Texas. Troopers are hoping this law forces people to put those phones down.

"What we need to do is educate the public. Not only not to use their cellphones but to eliminate distracted driving in their vehicle altogether," said Lt. Brian Witt with DPS.

Though it may be a challenge to try and stop every driver from texting and driving, officers are confident they will be able to enforce this law.

"We think it'll be pretty readily apparent. Everybody knows what texting and driving looks like, people see them as they're driving along," said Lubbock Police Department assistant chief, Jon Caspell.

You aren't violating the law if you are on your phone while stopped at a red light, but DPS cautions drivers to stay off their phones at all times when behind the wheel.

"If you are behind the wheel and your vehicle is running, you still have control of that vehicle. Your mind needs to be on driving, not on texting, not on anything that is distracting," Witt said.

Alex Brown, a Senior at Seagraves High School, died in November 2009. Her mother said Alex was texting three friends on her way to school that morning. She was speeding and wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Her mother was the first person to find her daughter after she had been thrown from her pickup. She was airlifted to the hospital, but she died at 17 years old.

Officers believe this is a great time to start the conversation with your family and friends that you choose not to be on your phone when you are behind the wheel.

"The saddest thing you could ever do is send a text to your child that's on the road and them be injured or killed responding to your text," Witt said.

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