Texas’ major auto insurers support proposed legislation to prohibit texting while driving as the next logical step to prevent accidents and deaths on Texas’ increasingly crowded roadways.
Beaman Floyd, executive director of the Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions (TCAIS), testified in support of proposed legislation before the Texas House Transportation Committee.
TCAIS is supporting a number of legislative changes this session to increase the safety of Texans while on the road, including strengthening the state’s teenage driving laws by enhancing the Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program.
Texas is one of 15 states nationally that does not restrict all-driver texting, according to a recent report by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (www.saferoads.org). The organization grades states on their performance regarding 15 traffic safety laws, including driver texting bans. In Texas, 25 cities have texting and driving bans.
Of the 3,048 traffic fatalities in Texas in 2011, 13.4 percent were attributed to distracted driving, including texting while driving – the third leading cause of road fatalities, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute have determined that a driver’s reaction time is doubled – to three to four seconds – when distracted by reading or sending a text message, according to the October 2011 study that was the first in the United States to examine texting while driving in an actual driving environment. In addition, the study found the drivers were less able to safely maintain their position in the driving lane or to maintain their speed when texting.
“The study – more real-world than using a simulator – found that texting impairment was greater than many experts believed,” Floyd said. “The alarming findings further underscore the need to protect Texans on our state’s roads.”