Valley Resident Applauds Texas Texting While Driving Ban
PALMHURST – On September 1, texting and driving will be illegal statewide in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the ban into law Tuesday.
Several Texas cities already have ordinances against texting and driving. Texas was one of the last four states in the U.S. without a statewide ban.
Palmhurst resident Lisa Mendiola Chapa celebrated the new law Tuesday. She said she’s been pushing for it since losing her sister, Anna, to a texting-and-driving crash in 2010.
"We just wanted to celebrate my sister and her life, and how much she really did mean to us," she said.
Chapa said she will never forget the moment she received news of the incident on Expressway 83 in Penitas. Her family found out her sister was texting while driving when she rear-ended an 18-wheeler. She said they even saw her phone after the wreck.
"We were able to read her text messages, and it wasn't worth her life," said Chapa. "There's absolutely nothing we can do to change. It's our reality."
Chapa said she’s used the story to help pass the texting while driving ban in Texas. She has since traveled to Austin twice to ask lawmakers to pass the ban.
"We've always been there to try to tell you what it does to a family - the devastation," she said. "That's where we've come in, trying to just tell you a little bit of our story, as horrific as it was."
Palmview Police Captain Saul Uvalle said his department deals with many texting-while-driving accidents. Though Palmview has its own city ordinance against texting and driving, he is applauding the news of the statewide ban. Uvalle said it took Texas a long time to pass the ban for good reason.
"I know that the state works on a lot of statistics to really make changes into traffic laws, so a lot of this goes into research and statistics. Once they identify that there is a problem, that's when it'll go into effect," he said.
Uvalle added a lot of people are opposed to this new ban, but it is to benefit the people and save lives.
He said proving accidents happen because of texting and driving is difficult. His department investigates cell phone records to see if a driver was texting at the time of a crash.
People caught texting and driving will receive a fine of up to $99 for the first time. They will also receive a fine of $200 if they are repeat offenders.