AUSTIN (KXAN) - The House Transportation Committee on Tuesday considered state Rep. Tom Craddick's proposed statewide ban on texting while driving.
During the hearing, lawmakers heard from Texas families who lost a loved one to a crash caused by texting while driving.
The widow of an Army helicopter gunner described the crash that killed her husband after he had survived combat service in Iraq.
"He was a decorated soldier, the perfect father, and a devoted husband," said Jennifer Zamora Jamison.
Nine months after her husband of 13 years, Javier Zamora, came from Iraq, he was killed. He was 40 years old. She says a driver who was texting behind the wheel hit his car head-on.
KXAN's "X the TXT" initiative
KXAN and its affiliated stations, KNVA and KBVO, are launch an XtheTXT public service announcment contest on Friday, Because of our focus with kids and education, this contest is open to high school students in the viewing area ages 16 and up.
- Participants will submit a 30-second PSA creating awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
- Video uploads need to be submitted through KXAN.com/Community/XtheTXT
- Submission period ends on April 5 at 11:59 p.m.
- All videos will be screened before moving on to the voting process.
- The winning PSA will air on all three stations.
"It took its toll on me," Jamison said, "I spent two years in my own world, shutting everyone--even my kids--out, and playing the victim role."
But now Jamison says she's putting a voice to her pain. She was one of several to testify before the House Transportation committee Tuesday morning, as they considered the bill.
And an overwhelming percentage of Texans say they want texting while driving to be against the law. In an exclusive poll commissioned by KXAN and Survey USA this month, 85 percent of people said they want texting while behind the wheel to be an illegal offense. Only 8 percent said they think texting while driving should be legal.
Last Legislative session, a similar bill from Craddick passed both houses of the Legislature, but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it. Craddick says this time there's more momentum for House Bill 63.
Across the nation, 39 states and Washington D.C. have passed laws to prohibit texting while driving. In addition, 25 cities in Texas -- including Austin -- limit the texting while driving. Such laws, Craddick says, are becoming more and more familiar.
"I've had more people walk up to me and say, 'Can I sign your bill? Can I co-sponsor your bill?' Of course we're elated to have them do it. Two years ago we had people going, 'Oh, that's really different. I don't know if my district's going to like that,'" said Craddick.
The proposed bill is named for Alex Brown. In 2009 the West Texas teenager rolled her truck over and died while texting on the way to school. It's the lives lost that keep advocates like Jamison pushing for action.
"It's not just Javier's story, but all of our combined stories of tragedy that are senseless and preventable," Jamison said.
There are two other similar bills that will come up for debate this legislative session, including a measure that would make it illegal to drive anywhere on a school campus while texting. Current law bans using a wireless device for people driving in a school crossing zone.
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