Why Austin’s cell phone-while-driving ban may escape the scrutiny of Abbott

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, supports a statewide ban on texting while driving.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, supports a statewide ban on texting while driving.

In his remarks last week going after local bans, including ones involving fracking and plastic bags, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott didn’t mention one that has recently taken hold in Austin: Cell phone use while driving.

On the campaign trail, Abbott said that he opposed a statewide ban on texting while driving. But he has lately declined to elucidate his stance on cell phone bans, and his omission on that topic last week appears to create a small opening for lawmakers who have supported a ban on driving-while-texting in previous sessions. It also suggests that Austin’s cell phone ban could survive a likely round of legislation that takes aim at plastic bag bans and tree removal bans.

The intellectual scaffolding for the Gov.-elect and lawmakers as they clamber about to oppose some local bans while withholding attacks may be built on a public safety foundation: Don’t be surprised to see moderate lawmakers, already reluctant to stick their nose in local issues, to turn to public safety as a reason to stop short of legislation overriding a local ban.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, supports a statewide ban on texting while driving.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, supports a statewide ban on texting while driving.

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, a co-sponsor of a statewide driving-while-texting ban, said he hoped this time around such a bill would be signed into law by Abbott. Gov. Rick Perry had vetoed such a ban.

“Gov. Perry’s rational (with the veto) was invasion of your personal liberty, which is pretty nonsensical in my mind,” Cook said. “We have done a lot of things to ensure roadways are as safe as possible: Otherwise we wouldn’t be relegated to driving on one side of the road, to make that experience as safe as possible. We’re hopeful that Gov.-elect Abbott will look at this proposed legislation in its totality, that it will clearly will benefit the citizens of Texas, and do what’s right for Texas and make a safer environment for people.”

Asked how he would feel about legislation aimed at overturning Austin’s cell phone use ban, Cook said: “To the extent local communities have already enacted a ban on texting while driving, they are taking appropriate action.”

Reader Comments 0

9 comments
blakeNaustin
blakeNaustin

This new Austin law is one of the few actions taken by far left Travis County or City of Austin politicians that makes sense.  Kudos on seeking to protect other drivers from these addicted and dangerous callers, surfers, and texters.  Many of these folks probably need professional help to help free them from their addiction to their cell phone.

cheat-to-win
cheat-to-win

Maybe it's even more selfish than Abbott simply wanting more time to see which way the wind's blowing on cell phone usage regulation in vehicles. Maybe Abbott doesn't want his van driver, or the guy in the pickup truck who might run into the van hauling Abbott and his wheelchair, using a cell phone and being distracted while driving around the newly self-important governor-elect, most of the time which will be spent on Austin roads.

stex5150
stex5150

A ban on using digital devices and texting while driving is very much needed. This afternoon, Northbound on the upper deck the woman in the car next to me (several times much closer than she should be) was busy on an iPad like device instead of driving her car. We were only going 40-45, gee what could happen? Stop being stupid people, you cannot drive that well to begin with.

freeheel
freeheel

The ban is a continuation of the nanny state. It has nothing to do with safety or attention.


RobinOrlowski
RobinOrlowski

This has nothing to do with 'individual rights' or even paying off a lobbyist. When people's full attention is not on the road and they are driving--people are either injured or killed. Abbott won't defend this ban for the same reason he won't defend the 'rights' of people to drive with an open container.

Jabroni1_Jr
Jabroni1_Jr

@blakeNaustin Wonk, wonk, wonk. I'm an old crank who likes plastic bags and segregation. Wonk, wonk, wonk.

freeheel
freeheel

@stex5150 Everyone stop driving near Stex!!!!!! It’s his road. Cool story bro, in other words NOTHING happened.

blakeNaustin
blakeNaustin

@freeheel I strongly oppose the nanny state, but you are dead wrong.  This has everything to do with safety.  It is more dangerous than driving drunk.