Distracted driving accidents resulting from texting have risen nationwide. As of September 1, it’s illegal in Texas to text while driving. Texas was one of only a few states not to have already enacted such a ban. Governor Greg Abbott seeks even further limitations, as he wants to ensure county and local government cannot override state legislation and permit texting and cellphone use. However, many Texas cities and counties are ahead of the new state law, already banning the use of handheld cellphones while driving.
The new law allows the use of hands-free cell phone devices for making phone calls. The law makes exceptions for the use of handheld cellphones while driving if the driver is reporting an emergency or illegal activity. GPS systems are not affected under the new legislation.
Texting While Driving Penalties
First time offenders charged with texting while driving under the new law will pay up to $99 in fines. However, fines may rise to as much as $200 for repeat offenders.
Young drivers are the primary culprits and victims when it comes to car accidents occurring from distracted driving and texting. Combining constant smartphone use with less driving experience overall is a recipe for disaster. Last year alone, 455 people died on Texas roads due to a distracted driver, and another 3,000 suffered injuries. A March, 2017 collision that left 13 people on a church bus dead after a 20 year old texting pickup truck driver crashed into the vehicle made national headlines. The accident sparked the reintroduction of the statewide texting while driving ban. Former Governor Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill in 2011.
Distracted Driving Dangers
The CDC describes three types of distracted driving:
- Visual – taking eyes off the road
- Manual – taking hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – not focusing on driving
Texting while driving involves all three types of distractions. A driver reading a text message takes his or her eyes off the road for a full 5 seconds, which at 55 mph is enough time to travel the length of a football field, according to the CDC.
Distracted Driving Evidence
Perhaps the only fortunate aspect of a distracted driving crash is that evidence of texting or cellphone use is relatively easy to come by. Cellphone companies keep records of when calls and texts are sent. Not only may a police report contain information regarding cellphone use in an accident, but a personal injury lawyer may receive such records from the provider.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a distracted driver, call the law offices of Branch & Dhillon, P.C. for a free consultation at 1-817-533-3430, or email us.