Cell phones have radically changed the way we communicate, look up information, and interact with the world around us. While being able to contact loved ones, conduct business, or set up appointments from anywhere has made life more convenient and even saved lives, the dark side to this incredible invention is texting and driving.
In 2020, 3,124 individuals lost their lives to an accident caused by distracted driving. Statistics tell us that, more often than not, distracted driving is caused by cell phone use while driving. Precious seconds lost to looking at a phone rather than the road can cause any driver, no matter how experienced, to miss important moments, such as when driving conditions change.
In an answer to the rise of accidents caused by texting and driving, the Texas legislature passed a law in 2017 that bans texting while driving. While drivers can still use their phones’ GPS and music playing capabilities, as well as use the hands-off feature to take phone calls, having a phone in your hand while driving can lead to a ticket and hefty fines.
While 91 percent of Texans seemingly supported this law, a survey conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that 65 percent of drivers continued to text and drive anyways. The question we must ask, then, is if texting and driving laws have truly helped reduce the amount of distracted driving incidents. And, if not, do we need to find a different solution for accidents caused by texting and driving?
The team of car accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. has done some research to see whether these laws have helped. Here is what the current law says and its effect on distracted driving accidents in Texas.
What Are the Current Texting and Driving Laws in Texas?
- Drivers may not send or read received text messages or emails while driving.
- Drivers who have a learner’s permit are prohibited from using their cellphones at all, including for music or GPS, while they are driving for the first six months.
- Using handheld devices while driving in a school zone is illegal and will result in heightened fines.
- Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using their cell phones for texting, changing the music, or any other purpose that requires the phone to be in their hand while they are driving.
- School bus drivers may not use their cell phones, even for music or GPS purposes while they are driving if they have children or students on the bus.
Understanding the Gravity of Texting and Driving
No one is immune from the temptation of looking at their phone while they are on the road. Cell phones present a direct line of communication to our loved ones and endless information, making it extremely difficult to ignore incoming messages, especially if you are anxiously awaiting a particular message.
While teenage drivers are still the largest and highest-risk group for engaging in this dangerous activity, adults of all ages are quickly catching up as cell phones become more and more ingrained into our daily lives.
It is important to note that this is not a strictly Texas issue. Forty eight of the 50 states have outlawed texting while driving. These laws, as mentioned earlier, are an attempt to deter individuals from engaging in this dangerous behavior and make roads safer.
Are the Laws Effective in Reducing the Number of Distracted Driving Accidents?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, yes, texting and driving laws have helped decrease the number of fatal car accidents caused by distracted driving.
National statistics show that in 2015, more than 48,000 Americans were involved in a fatal car accident. Distracted driving caused seven percent of these accidents. The most affected age group was between the ages of 15 to 19.
However, banning texting and driving resulted in a five to 11 percent reduction in the number of accidents drivers ages 15 to 21 were involved in. For drivers older than 21, there was a seven percent decrease in the number of distracted driving accidents.
While these laws may sometimes seem arbitrary, remember that the few seconds lost to looking at a cell phone while driving majorly increases the risk of an accident. In a matter of seconds, the lives of both the negligent driver and of the injured party change.
What Do I Do If I Was Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident?
If you were the victim of another driver’s negligence and involved in an accident that resulted in damages and serious injuries, you should not be responsible for your recovery. All drivers, no matter how old or how much experience they have behind the wheel, owe a basic duty of care to their passengers, other drivers, and the public. Anyone who breaches this duty is responsible for the resulting damages and injuries.
The team at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. believes strongly that injured individuals deserve to be compensated for the medical expenses and damages that resulted due to an accident. We advocate for our clients, helping them receive compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses related to past, current, and future care for their injuries.
- Damages incurred because of the distracted driver, such as the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle or property.
- Loss of income due to lost time at work because of the injuries sustained from the accident.
- Physical pain, emotional damage, or the loss of enjoyment of life due to the accident.
- Loss of companionship in cases of wrongful death.
Contact our team if you or a loved one’s life was altered due to serious injuries caused by the negligence of another. We offer a free no-obligation consultation so that we can fully discuss the details of your accident. Schedule your consultation today.
Texting and Driving FAQs
In Texas, unless you are reporting an emergency situation, such as a car accident: All drivers may not text behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. This includes both sending and reading texts.
Handheld devices and cellphone usage while driving in a school zone is strictly prohibited.
It depends, if you are physically holding your phone to talk then yes, it is illegal. However, if you have a hands-free function in your vehicle that will allow you to talk without holding the phone, then this is perfectly legal.