With everything we now know about distracted driving, it is shocking that texting while driving is still legal here in Texas. Everyone seems to know the dangers of distracted driving, yet millions of people continue to do it every day.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers kill 8 people and injure 1,161 people every single day. Texas alone has more than 100,000 car crashes each year that involve a distracted driver. That’s about 274 accidents per day.
Distracted driving includes anything that requires visual, manual, or cognitive attention that takes away from the primary task of driving. This can include using a cell phone or GPS, drinking, eating, talking to passengers, being emotional or upset, grooming, adjusting the radio, and more.
Cell phones, however, are the largest problem. Using a cell phone while operating your vehicle can have dangerous and lethal consequences. For example, to read or send a text message, your eyes are off the road for approximately 5 seconds. It may seem like a few seconds shouldn’t matter, but when traveling at just 55 mph, 5 seconds is equivalent to having your eyes closed for 100 yards, the length of an entire football field.
Some other scary statistics distracted driving researchers have reported include:
- 1 in 2 drivers has talked on the phone while driving
- 1 in 3 drivers has sent text messages while driving
- 1 in 5 drivers has surfed the internet while operating a vehicle
Distracted driving laws vary from state to state. Forty-six states (plus Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam) have complete bans on texting and driving. Only four states don’t have a statewide ban; Texas is one of them.
Texas Driving Laws
In each legislative session since 2011, Texas state lawmakers have introduced legislation for a statewide ban on texting and driving. This legislation even made it to former Governor Rick Perry’s desk. He vetoed it. While the governor admitted that it was irresponsible to text and drive, he did not see it fitting to ban the behavior. He stated it was a government overreach and an attempt to “micromanage” the behavior of adults.
However, other Texas laws regulate the behavior of adults, like the requirement to wear a seatbelt in a moving vehicle, the restriction and crackdown on drinking and driving, and the obligation to stop for pedestrians.
Although there is no statewide ban on texting while driving, individual Texas cities have acted to curb this dangerous behavior. Forty Texas cities have some type of texting and driving ban that includes a fine. For example, in San Antonio, the fine is $200, but if you’re caught with your phone behind the wheel in Austin, you’ll have to pay a hefty $500 fine.
The problem of distracted driving seems so big, it can feel overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to make the roadways safer.
What You Can Do to Prevent Distracted Driving
Texting and driving is dangerous for everyone on the road. Safer roadways start with safety-minded individuals. Here are a few things you can personally do:
- Don’t drive distracted. Put your phone away as soon as you get in your vehicle, and model this positive behavior at all times. Passengers in the car will take notice, especially children.
- Speak up. If you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver, remind them of their primary task of driving and offer to assist with making a phone call, reading directions, changing the radio station, etc.
- Write to and call your state representatives. Let your elected lawmakers know how important this issue is to you. Encourage them to support legislation that would ban texting and driving and discourage distracted driving statewide.
Crosley Law Firm – Working to Ban Texting and Driving in Texas
The attorneys at Crosley Law Firm are committed to the fight against distracted driving, especially texting and driving. Attorney Tom Crosley fiercely advocates for Bobby’s Law, which is a proposed statewide ban on texting and driving in Texas.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact Crosley Law Firm at 210-LAW-3000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with us today.
Distracted driving. (2016 March 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/
Marshall, A. (2016, March 8). U.S. drivers are distracted more than half the time they’re behind the wheel. CityLab. Retrieved from http://www.citylab.com/commute/2016/03/major-distractions-for-drivers/472656/
Stutz, T. (2011 June). Perry vetoes Texas bill to ban texting while driving. Dallas News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2011/06/17/perry-vetoes-texas-bill-to-ban-texting-while-driving
Talk. Text. Crash. – Distracted driving campaign. (2017). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://www.txdot.gov/driver/share-road/distracted.html
The content provided in this website/blog is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.