On Friday June 17th 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed a law that passed the state legislature that would have made reading or sending text messages while driving illegal statewide. This was one of 23 bills the Governor vetoed on Friday. The texting while driving legislation was authored by Tom Craddick (former house speaker), who felt that this law was needed as a public safety measure in an attempt to decrease the number of traffic crashes resulting from texting while driving. The law would have been a first statewide law that dealt specifically with a type of distracted driving, and was intended to protect those sharing the roads with drivers willing to participate in these dangerous activities while behind the wheel.
Governor Perry obviously didn’t feel that the law was necessary, calling it an “overreach” and a “government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.” He went on to say, “The keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education,” as he mentioned in his veto statment. “I recommend additional education on this issue in driving safety and driver’s education courses, public service ads, and announcements, and I encourage individuals and organizations that testified in favor of the anti-texting language included in this bill to work with state and local leaders to educate the public of these dangers.”
It is my opinion that this law was well intentioned and I would not have had any issue had the Governor signed it into law. However, I believe that enforcement would be the issue with such a law. How would a police officer know if a driver is sending or receiving a text message or scrolling through their contacts to find the person they would like to make a call to? The answer is that they wouldn’t. With that in mind, I do think that a texting ban law statewide would make some drivers think twice before taking their eyes off the road to send or receive a text, but to properly enforce this type of behavior it would require a much broader brushed approach which would require the ban of cell phone use while driving completely unless hands free. I am not saying that I am in favor of such legislation, but I am saying it is necessary if lawmakers truly want a law to curtail cell phone based distractions behind the wheel (including texting), and most importantly, in a way that police can enforce. What do you think of of the Governor’s decision?