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Nationwide Banning of Texting While Driving

While a lot of people felt letdown when Governor Rick Perry vetoed the texting-while-driving bill in Texas earlier this month, there is still hope that it may become a reality. Federal legislation wants to ban the use of hand-held phones and other devices while driving. They have introduced a new legislation called the Safe Drivers Act of 2011 that would have the Transportation Department introduce a nationwide standard to prohibit drivers from using their mobile devices while driving.

"Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common," says Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.

The legislation only covers hand-held phones in its definition of what is prohibited. Other devices such as voice-operated, vehicle-integrated, or hands-free devices that allow the use of the device with minimal button-pressing are still allowed.

States that do not comply with the new standard within two years would be penalized by having 25 percent of their federal highway funding withheld.

Other than prohibiting drivers from operating their mobile devices, the legislation also requires the Transportation Department to conduct a study on distracted driving. In particular, they would want the department to focus on “cognitive distraction”, which involves finding out if hands-free devices still pose as yet another distraction for drivers.

Tom Craddick, the author of House Bill 242, has also stated that though he is disappointed that the bill didn't pass, he understands that for major house bills, there is often a need for time before they become law.

Other Texas officials aren't deterred as well, with Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck eyeing to turn texting-while-driving into a Class C misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor usually carries a hefty fine of $500.

Only good things --- one in Texas can still hope for a distraction-free future in driving.

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