It’s usually unwise to read too much into the carefully crafted comments of politicians, especially when delivered through a spokesperson.
But we’ll risk it.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, when asked about Gov. Greg Abbott’s position on a bill that would impose a statewide ban on texting while driving, spokeswoman Amelia Chassé said, “Gov. Abbott will consider any proposal passed through the Legislature with the goal of making Texas better.”
It’s a vague and non-committal statement.
But it also suggests the governor’s hardline position on a texting ban may be softening.
We certainly hope so.
In 2011, the Legislature passed a law to ban texting while driving — a practice that contributes to almost one in five vehicle crashes in which someone was injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill, calling it an effort to “micromanage the behavior of adults.”
Abbott expressed a similar opinion on the issue last year. During his campaign, a spokesman said Abbott supported existing laws that restrict cell phone use by minors and in school zones but opposed “additional government mandates that micromanage adult driving behavior.”
We concede the policy might be “micromanagement” — but it’s for good reason. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says driver distraction, which includes use of cell phones while driving, was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012. Clearly, a little more discipline on the state’s streets and highways is necessary.
Currently, Texas is one of only six states without an all-driver texting ban.
For the third consecutive legislative session, state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has introduced a bill that would make texting while driving an offense punishable by fine throughout the Lone Star State. An identical bill was filed by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, in the Senate.
The bipartisan effort seems likely to pass again, and when it does, Abbott will have the opportunity to prove if he is genuinely interested in making Texas better.
A ban on texting will certainly make Texas roads safer, and that’s a good place for the governor to start.