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Communities and States Continue to Debate Texting Laws

One by one, cities across the nation are cracking down on texting behind the wheel. On Monday, June 7, the Springfield, Massachusetts city council passed a home rule petition by a 12-1 margin to allow police to fine anyone who sends or receives a text message behind the wheel.

A first offense fine would be $100, second $200, and so on. The city councilor who proposed the measure, Jimmy Ferrera, has hopes that enough communities in the state will pass similar provisions to get the attention of the state legislature for a state-wide ban.

On the other side of the coin, however, the city council in Arlington, Texas declined to put consideration of a texting ban on their August agenda in a 4-3 straw vote on on Tuesday, June 8.

The city council member who requested the addition, Robert Rivera, said, “What I want is just to provide as premier a level of public safety on Arlington streets as possible. The first step is to have the discussion.”

Both Austin and Galveston have banned texting behind the wheel and El Paso banned all cell phone use while driving unless hands-free devices are present. The entire state of Texas has a ban on texting in active school zones.

(You can get a full breakdown of the current cell phone and texting laws for every state at the Governor’s Highway Safety Association page.)

Obviously the cases of Massachusetts and Texas show the fractured status of texting legislation. As one police officer in Texas pointed out, it’s impossible for an officer simply observing a driver to know if they are getting a text or a phone call.

Still, text messaging is banned to some degree in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. The bottom line is clear, however. Distracted driving kills. Don’t wait for a state or local ban. Police yourself. If an accident caused by texting doesn’t kill you — or someone else — you can bet it’s not going to do your auto insurance rates one bit of good!

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