Texas lawmakers in the House have just approved a statewide ban on texting while driving, but steep opposition to the measure suggests that there might be a long way to go before final passage is achieved.
The texting and driving ban passed by a 98 to 47 margin yesterday and will now be heard in front of the Senate. Cellphone or GPS usage are not outlawed by the ban, which would find texters being hit with a $100 ticket if they get pulled over. A violation is grounds enough for a person to be stopped by an officer.
That latter distinction almost came undone, however, when an amendment was called for that would have required a police official to have some other reason to pull over a driver other than the person texting. Debate raged after this amendment was proposed, but when a vote was tallied, the amendment was struck down by a very slim margin, clearing the way for the original measure to secure passage.
One interesting facet of this ban is that it prohibits cities within Texas from passing bans on cellphone usage that would be stricter than the statewide measure. For instance, Amarillo, which recently banned cellphone usage at the wheel, would see its own statute barred under the new law. El Paso will apparently be able to keep its cellphone driving ban in place.
The biggest roadblock to the bill could still be the Governor, who has long expressed an unwillingness to pass such a texting ban.