You’re driving on a Texas road and suddenly, your phone beeps. It’s that message you have been expecting from your wife. You pick up your phone and start typing away…
Well, this is now illegal in Texas as the state has introduced a texting while driving ban, joining 47 other states that have a similar ban.
What is the Driving Ban About?
The following are things you should keep in mind concerning the texting while driving ban:
• The law targets people who are texting, reading, or writing on their phone while driving.
• The police will be on the lookout for drivers with their heads down while driving.
• Technically, you can text while at a red light because you are not driving at the moment. However, when the green light comes on, and you are on the move, you must stop texting.
• You can still use your cellphone for GPS, listening to music, and dictating out loud. As long as doesn’t involve you pressing your phone with your eyes away from the road, it’s legal.
• Instead of texting, you are allowed to use hand free devices like Bluetooth headsets or apps that allow you dictate out loud.
• If you text while driving to report an emergency like a car crash, you are not violating the law.
• If you are caught texting while driving, you will be fined $99 for the first offense. Subsequent offenders will be fined up to $200.
• The law provides that if an accident is caused by texting while driving, the driver will be liable to a maximum fine not exceeding $4000. He will also be confined in jail for a period not more than one year, in addition to other charges.
If you happen to be caught texting while driving, you can get in touch with a car accident lawyer to handle your case with the authorities.
Why has Texas taken so long?
It’s not rocket science to know that texting while driving is likely to cause accidents. In 2016, there were 109,658 traffic accidents caused by distracted driving, resulting in about 455 deaths. In summary, 1 in 5 traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving.
So, why has it taken Texas so long to come up with a texting while driving ban?
There were past attempts:
• In 2011, the state legislature passed a texting while driving ban. However, despite overwhelming public support, Governor Rick Perry vetoed it.
• In 2013, a similar bill was passed with wide support from both sides of the political spectrum. However, the Senate Transport Committee didn’t allow a vote on it.
• There was another proposed bill in 2015. The Texas house panel approved the bill which was to ban the use of wireless devices while operating a motor. It was however defeated in the senate before it could become law.
• In May of 2017, an earlier bill (HB 62), passed the Senate received the assent of Governor Abbott.
Regardless of the past failed attempts, this present ban is a step in the right direction. This is especially significant in times when our mobile devices come with a lot of distracting bells and whistles.
If you are involved in an accident as a result of “a driver texting while driving”, you can get in touch with an Auto Accident Lawyer to know the steps you can take to retrieve compensation.