Posted on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Only three other states in the country apart from Texas have not yet made it illegal to text and drive at the same time. From 1st September this year (2017), that leaves just Arizona, Missouri and Montana that seem to consider the freedom of the individual driver more important than the safety of other road users, as Texas will have made texting while driving illegal.
The flip side to the coin is that more restrictive city wide bans on driving and using hands free devices will be rolled away as the state government intends making legislation uniform across the whole state.
This means that in McAllen at the moment, it is already illegal to text and drive, as well as phone and drive using a hands free device, but after September 1st it will be o.k. to use a hands free device! The same will apply to many other Texas cities (45 to date) that have brought in more progressive laws that help to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 62 into state law on June 6th this year even though the law doesn’t come into effect until 1st September. It’s not the first time that Texas has tried to make it illegal to text and drive. It’s the fourth attempt so far. Previous bills have been either vetoed or never got to be heard. The main justification used in the past is that individual rights would be trampled on. The new law means a 25 to 99 dollar fine for any first offense and a 100 to 200 dollar fine for a second offense. If texting while driving is shown to be the cause of a fatal accident or a serious injury, then the driver may face being charged with a Class A misdemeanor. That could mean a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year.
Distracted driving causes more fatalities in Texas than alcohol
It doesn’t take too much imagination to understand just how dangerous using a cell phone can be if you are driving. Distracted driving kills more Texans than alcohol or drugs. It would be hard to put an exact figure on just how many distracted driving accidents are caused by drivers who choose to use their mobile phones while driving, but it’s a reasonable surmise that it is high on the list of why a driver is “distracted”. Using a GPS, talking to someone else in the vehicle, eating and drinking, swatting a fly and staring at something interesting out of the window are also reasons for being distracted, but they are not particularly new. The plethora of “wireless only” devices that everyone owns these days and the emphasis on social media communication and texting have done their bit to boosting the distracted driving road toll.
In 2016, there were 455 fatalities caused by distracted driving in Texas alone and 3,000 serious injuries. Nearly 110,000 crashes on Texas roads were attributed to distracted driving.
Whether the law will be easy to enforce is another matter, but as supporters of House Bill62 have pointed out, it wasn’t easy to enforce the mandatory use of seat belts in the 1960s when legislation was first introduced, but that didn’t stop the legislation from being passed in the interests of safety.
The research into reaction time recorded by cell phone users is convincing. One statistic revealed during the lead up to House Bill 62 being introduced was the fact that 40 percent of drivers between the ages of 19 and 39 admit that they text and drive. Crash figures do back that up as they reveal that it is predominantly young people who are most likely to use a device while driving.
The reaction time of a driver when distracted by a text message being sent or received is around twice that of a driver who isn’t distracted. In a six second period, it has been estimated that a texting driver takes their eyes off the road for a full two thirds of that time. In that time, a driver driving at 55 mph could travel the length of a football field.
Contact a car accident attorney if you have been injured by a texting driver
Although it’s good to know that if you are hit and injured by a texting driver that they could be charged, it doesn’t compensate you for any injuries you receive. That’s why it is important to contact a car accident attorney to discuss filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, regardless of any criminal charges laid against them. A successful personal injury claim can help to pay for medical expenses and lost earnings as well as any pain and suffering you have endured as a result of negligent driving by a texting driver. Call the Patino Law Office in McAllen, Texas on 956 631 3535.