A measure filed in the Texas House of Representatives would require drivers in
the state to keep their hands off the phone.
Sponsored by Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, the
proposal would ban hand-held cell phone use while driving. Talking on a phone
equipped with a “hands-free” device would still be permitted.
Under HB237, a driver stopped for using a hand-held phone
could be fined up to $100, or up to $200 if the offense occurs within a school
Menendez’s bill would exempt emergency calls.
Statewide, 1,032 cell-phone related crashes were reported
in 2001, the first full-year statistics were released since Texas started
tracking such data, The Associated Press reported.
“I have seen studies that show that the reaction times are
as slow as someone who is intoxicated when someone is holding the cell phone to
their ear,” Menendez, who sponsored a similar measure in 2003 only to see it
defeated, said. “I think we’ve got to do something. It’s ridiculous for us to
keep our heads in the sand on this.”
AAA opposes laws restricting cell-phone use by drivers.
The automotive association recommends that drivers avoid “emotional or
complicated phone conversations.” AAA cites the safety benefits of having a
cell phone in the vehicle in its reasoning for opposing bans.
Currently, New York and New Jersey have the only statewide
laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. Several states, however, are
expected to address the issue in the coming months.