Repeated efforts to implement a statewide ban on texting while driving in Texas may continue to fail even after Gov. Rick Perry leaves office next year.
Texas is one of only seven states without a law prohibiting all drivers from texting while driving. Many major cities in Texas, including Arlington, have passed local ordinances, but a statewide ban has been a nonstarter under Perry, who in 2011 called the idea misguided and vetoed a texting bill.
Lawmakers in favor of a ban may not have any better luck under his successor. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, the favorite to replace Perry, is also opposed to Texas putting a statewide ban on the books, The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Saturday.
The Democratic candidate for governor, Wendy Davis, co-wrote one of the bills that would have banned texting while driving during her time in the Texas Senate.
“Sen. Davis believes that it is imperative that we take the proper and necessary steps to limit distracted driving to ensure the safety of our citizens both on and off the road,” Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said.
Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said the longtime attorney general is against more government mandates that “micromanage adult driving behavior.” Perry used similar language to defend his 2011 veto.
Hirsch said Abbott would promote safe driving, despite his opposition to a statewide ban.
“Greg Abbott will remain active in public-awareness campaigns to inform all drivers about safe driving practices, including the dangers of texting while driving,” Hirsch said.
A safety nonprofit group has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. One in five traffic crashes in Texas is caused by a distracted driver, and last year 459 people were killed in such accidents, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Distracted driving crashes, which can also involve grooming, reading and adjusting the radio, were up 4 percent in Texas last year from 2012, according to state transportation officials.
Former Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick has tried pushing bans through the Legislature and still wants the state act.
“The patchwork of city ordinances on this issue underscores the need for a uniform statewide ban so drivers know, regardless of where they are in the state, that it is illegal to text and drive on Texas roadways,” Craddick said.