AUSTIN - For the 4th session in a row, Rep. Tom Craddick (Midland) filed a bill to create a traffic violation for smartphone use while driving.

"I am proud to propose House Bill 62 during this upcoming 85th Texas Legislative Session. Distracted driving is an epidemic in Texas and we must pass a law to address this life-threatening habit," Craddick said. "I am committed to giving our Texas drivers safer roads; I am determined to be a voice for the distracted driving victims and families of victims; and I am extremely motivated to enact legislation that will prevent any loss of life."

"Ninety-eight cities in Texas have an ordinance governing the use of smartphones while driving, and 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin islands have a law governing the use of smartphones while driving," Craddick said. "But the number that gets my attention and concerns me gravely is the 482 deaths that occurred on Texas roadways in 2015 due to distracted driving. I filed House Bill 62 because there should be ZERO deaths." 

While there is not a statewide smartphone use law for all drivers, Texas has several laws in place that regulate cell phone use while driving. State law bans cell phone use for drivers under 18; school bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving with children on the bus; and drivers cannot use a cell phone or other handheld wireless device in an active school zone where signs are present.

"We have come to a tipping point in this distracted driving crisis. Zero Texans need to die because of the selfishness of Texas drivers who are addicted to their phones," Craddick said. "When HB62 is passed into law, I will be able to resolutely reassure victims and family members that their loved one's death was not in vain and others' lives will be saved."

Monday was the first day state lawmakers could file legislation for the upcoming 85th Legislative Session, which convenes Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.