Proposed Ban on Texting While Driving Has Variation

The debates on texting while driving laws are getting new heat in the Texas legislature.  One texting while driving ban made it through the house, but this version has a twist.  The House of Representatives voted on a texting while driving ban Thursday.  The bill passed with a 124-16 vote.  The basic idea has the support of the Wichita County Sheriff's Office.

"It has caused accidents, so we're definitely in favor of something similar to this being passed," said Deputy Sheriff Melvin Joyner.

But this bill has a twist some people are calling watered-down -- the bill would still allow people to read texts and emails while driving.  Joyner says that won't solve everything.

"I think it will lessen some of the problem, but it still is gonna be a problem because sometimes people are more focused on their texts and reading what has been text to them instead of paying attention to driving," he said.

Critics of the bill in Austin say the proposed ban is too invasive, and that it would allow police to harass drivers.  Joyner says enforcing it wouldn't be cut and dry.

"The deputies are gonna have to be more cautious before they issue a citation, making sure they do actually witness the individual texting," he said.

Interestingly, the bill didn't make it through the house until the amendment was added that would allow reading texts while driving.  If it does become law, the Sheriff's Office expects it to be a helpful asset.

"Anytime we can get some laws passed to help make the drivers pay more attention to the roadway instead of another distraction will be a benefit," Joyner said.

The bill still has to face one final procedural hurdle, but it is expected to move on to the senate for a vote there.