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New 'Samuel Allen Law' to help drivers with communication challenges in Texas

Soon, Lone Star State drivers with autism, deafness, PTSD and other communication challenges will be able to make law enforcement aware ahead of time.

AUSTIN, Texas — After spending five years pushing for changes at the capitol, the work of recent Texas A&M San Antonio graduate Samuel Allen was recognized by lawmakers who passed a bill he and his family had been pushing for.

"As a person diagnosed with autism, I have been faced with certain challenges that do not necessarily affect my driving," Allen testified.

Texas Senate Bill 976 allows people with autism, deafness and other "communication impediments" to register vehicles with the DMV. Now, if an officer pulls them over, they know more about what to expect. 

Emma Faye Rudkin, a representative on the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, said communication challenges can affect drivers who are pulled over in ways people may not expect.

"There’s a lot of misunderstanding," Rudkin said. "So for me, I’m a deaf person who uses my voice, but that doesn’t mean I can hear. So when I get pulled over, they’re assuming I’m not respecting them, (that) I’m not paying attention."

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Allen said he hopes this measure will make a difference for people across the state—and, if it spreads, across the nation.

"Knowing that Texas is the first state to do this, it’s an honor. Knowing no one’s done this before and we’re going to be saving lives with this law, it gives me a good feeling in my heart," he said said. 

To learn more about the Samuel Allen Law, click here


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