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'No will in Texas' to ban cellphone use and driving, lawmakers say

Four years ago, a Baylor University student was driving the rural roads of Texas, on her way to Waco for Thanksgiving. Sadly, she never made it. She was hit and killed suddenly by a driver who had been texting and talking on a cellphone just before the fatal car accident. While her family was awarded compensation for their loss, they will never get their loved one back.

Unfortunately, this tragic story is not unique. Many people are injured or killed each year due to distracted driving. Shedding light on these tragedies, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended earlier this week that state lawmakers ban the use of cellphones while driving. Texas lawmakers however, have expressed opposition to the idea.

While the state has imposed some limits on cellphone use by inexperienced drivers and in areas surrounding schools, state Representative Gary Elkins says passing a statewide ban on using a cellphone while driving is not likely. Reinforcing his statements is the fact that attempts to ban talking on cellphones while driving have been shot down several times by Texas legislators. Governor Rick Perry has suggested the matter be worked out at a local level.

Whether or not Texas lawmakers choose to implement a ban, does not change the statistics. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 3,409 car accidents last year involved cellphone use. Forty-six of those resulted in fatalities -- 15 more than in 2006.

While the numbers are clear, Texas law enforcement officials say a ban on cellphone use and driving would be difficult to enforce. Representative Elkins added that such a ban would restrict the rights of Texas drivers. It will be interesting to see how future efforts to impose a ban are approached.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Texas not likely to follow feds' call to ban cellphone use while driving," Susan Carroll, Dec. 14, 2011

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