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Lone Star Project Report

Texting while driving ban is common sense public safety, but …

Konni Burton and fringe ideologues oppose bipartisan distracted driving bill
Maxine Zamora was only 22 years old when she took her own life in Fort Worth two and half years ago leaving behind a two-year old daughter.
 
Maxine’s death followed years of struggle coping with the emotional pain sustained in a 2007 car crash that injured her and killed her father, Javier.  While driving on a highway, Maxine and her father were hit head-on by another driver who was distracted reaching for their cell phone.  Javier died before reaching the hospital.  
 
Over the years, Maxine recovered physically, but her mother Jennifer says she never got over losing her father as a young teenager.  Jennifer is convinced the deadly car crash caused by irresponsible distracted driving contributed to Maxine’s decision to take her own life. 
  
Any young woman’s suicide is tragic, but Maxine’s story is about more than one family’s terrible loss.  It is central to a public safety debate taking place now in Texas where blind ideology is blocking legislation that would ban texting and driving in Texas. 
 
The debate is not new.  Many other states don’t allow texting while driving, and Texas bills have been considered in Austin before.  In fact, before her death, Maxine and Jennifer traveled to Austin to tell their story in an attempt to help save other lives through a texting while driving ban.  
 
Burton uses blind ideology to oppose common-sense distracted driving law
The debate over distracted driving in Texas is not partisan.  The highest profile supporter of a texting while driving ban and the lead sponsor in the State House is former Republican Speaker Tom Craddick (HD82 – Midland).   His bill, HB 62, was approved on a bipartisan vote by the State House today. 

The bill now goes to the State Senate, however, where serious opposition comes from a group of blindly ideological members who represent the fringe and often hold radically irresponsible views.  Their leader is Republican State Senator Konni Burton (SD10 – Colleyville).

Burton led the effort to block a texting ban in 2015 and remains unmoved now despite calls from local leaderseditorial support from the district’s largest newspaper, and pleas from local Tarrant County parents to support sensible distracted driving restrictions. 
You can help save the lives of Texans by calling your State Senator and urging them to reject Konni Burton’s plan to block a texting while driving ban in Texas. Find your Senator’s number here.
 
What is at stake?
In 2012, there were more than 90,000 traffic accidents in Texas caused by distracted driving. According to Texas A&M’s school of public health, states’ who implement texting while driving bans saw noticeable results including a 7 percent decrease in “crash-related hospitalizations.”  A separate study at A&M by the same researcher found that states that implement statewide bans also saw a 3 percent reduction in traffic fatalities saving, on average, 19 people per year.
 
The benefits of a statewide texting while driving ban are clear: Texans’ lives will be saved.  And, a rare coalition of Democrats, Republicans, local officials, and media outlets are on board. 
 
To get past Konni Burton and the fringe ideologues standing in the way, it will likely take broad and vocal public support.