TxDOT urges drivers to put phone down after texting and driving ban passed

Law bans texting, but TX DOT campaign goes further

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SAN ANTONIO – A few seconds, a few taps on the phone and a life can be changed.

Visitors to the "Talk, Text, Crash" exhibit at Ingram Park Mall on Saturday tried their hands — and attention spans — at texting and driving. It's a dangerous, but seemingly ubiquitous, practice.

"What I've seen over the past few weeks is most people are like, 'I never thought it could be me,'" said Amadeo Garcia, the lead brand ambassador for the campaign.

Texting and driving will soon be illegal in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning texting and driving earlier this month. It will take effect Sep. 1.

Texas joins at least 46 others states that have similar laws. In 2016, 455 people died statewide in crashes caused by distracted driving. In San Antonio alone, 22,987 crashes killed 50 people.

The new law comes just months after the driver of a pickup smashed headfirst into a bus full of people in Uvalde County. A copy of the crash report from the Texas Department of Transportation obtained by KSAT said the pickup's driver, Jack Young, told investigators after the crash that he was on medication and was texting.

Young survived, but 13 others did not. He was just 20 years old at the time of the crash.

"The age range of a lot of these distracted driving crashes ... (is) between the ages of 16 and 34," said TxDOT spokesperson Laura Lopez.

The new ban applies to texting and other messaging, but not using GPS or playing music. The TxDOT-sponsored "Talk, Text, Crash" campaign, though, wants drivers to avoid any distraction.

"If you have your phone in your hand while you're driving, you're being distracted," Garcia said.


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