Texas is ready to ban texting while driving.
But for some reason, the Texas Senate is hesitant to put state Rep. Tom Craddick’s bill to a vote.
A majority of the Senate is ready to pass that version of the bill and send it to a conference committee to resolve differences. But the conservative Senate leadership seems reluctant to move the bill forward until it has more support from Senate Republicans.
That had put sponsor Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, in an awkward position. Even though a majority of senators support the bill, she was left explaining, “We’re still looking for more votes.”
The current bill would ban typing or reading messages but not using navigation assistance or listening to music.
In order to win more Republican support, Zaffirini nearly had to dilute the bill by requiring law officers to make a traffic stop based on another probable cause, such as failure to stay in a lane or running a red light.
That would have made enforcement more complicated for police, who often might pull alongside a texting motorist but would be unable to pull the car over.
Libertarian conservatives elected by the small Republican primary voter base made their case four years ago, when then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a ban as overreach and an attempt to “micromanage the behavior of adults.” Conservatives have continued to argue that a ban is an unnecessary intrusion and unenforceable.
Since Perry’s veto, more than 1,000 Texans have died due to a distracted driver.
No matter what the Republican base wants, the people of Texas want texting while driving to be banned.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick should bring the texting-while-driving bill to the floor and let senators vote, or explain why not at every victim’s funeral.