“Undercutting local control is what Gov. Greg Abbott wants. In signing the statewide ban on texting and driving, he decried the ‘patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.’
But this is a patchwork that existed because the state repeatedly failed to act on this issue. Despite hundreds of deaths each year from distracted driving, Texas was one of four states without a texting ban.
While the new state law, which takes effect Sept. 1, bans texting while driving, it allows drivers to use their phones to look at maps or operate a vehicle’s stereo system. The state law allows texting and other uses if a vehicle is stopped.
Many city laws are far more stringent. In San Antonio, drivers can’t use cellphones in moving vehicles unless there is an emergency. They also can’t use their phones while stopped at a red light.
We fail to see why it’s so reprehensible that local communities keep these bans on the books. The state’s law, with its caveats and exceptions, is really just a belated and much-needed baseline. There is no harm in going above and beyond.”