Are There Traffic Laws in Place to Protect Texans from Distracted Drivers?
by lauraramos | May 20th, 2021 | Driving tips
While it may seem like no big deal, distracted driving poses a threat that deserves the same kind of attention that drunk driving gets in the state of Texas. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting-and-driving accidents are 6 times more likely to cause a collision than drunk driving.
The Austin car accident attorneys of Ramos James Law, PLLC will discuss what traffic laws are in place to protect Texans from distracted drivers.
Distracted Driving Laws in Texas
Each year, more than 100,000 Texas car wrecks involve distracted drivers. The Lone Star State enforces some of the most relaxed distracted-driving laws in the country. In truth, under current laws, our state does not ban smartphone use for the most adult drivers on the roads.
The following limitations apply at the state level:
- Learner’s permit drivers cannot utilize a smartphone while driving for the initial six months.
- All drivers younger than 18 are required to avoid the usage of any wireless communication devices.
- School bus operators cannot use their cellular devices while running a vehicle with children on board or present.
- All drivers must stop using mobile devices in school zones.
Many legislators have attempted on several occasions to push texting legislation via the state legislature but have yet to fall through. Without a statewide ban or restriction, the majority of local jurisdictions implemented their own mobile device statutes.
Distracted Driving Laws in Austin, Texas
The moment you drive into the city limits of Austin, you must put down all handheld devices unless you’re responding to an emergency. Texting, speaking on a handheld device, or being on an app could result in a $500 fine. You will not be fined for using your phone if you are safely sitting at a complete halt.
Austin has imposed the mobile device ordinances since 2015 and seeks to function as a model for other jurisdictions. The city will even discount court fees associated with first-time offenses if drivers display proof of purchase of hands-free devices.
The law also goes as far as bicyclists who might use their phones to talk or see GPS directions while riding on a bike. If you’re traveling in Austin, it is in your best interest to focus more on the road and less on handheld devices.
Civil Claims and Distracted Driving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that you can cross the length of a football field while writing out a text and driving at 55 mph. In those few distracted seconds you could fail to brake properly or swerve into the wrong lane. Anything can happen in a matter of seconds and turn a brief text into a lifelong nightmare.
While the state may not prohibit distracted driving on a ruling level, and local jurisdictional statutes may only include mobile device use, drivers should still stay aware of the dangers of distracted driving.
However, car accidents can happen outside of your control; you may adhere to the law, but that doesn’t mean other drivers will. Should they crash into your vehicle because of distracted driving, they could be held liable for any expenses you incurred because of the collision.
To earn the compensation you need to recover from such a traumatic incident, you need to file a car accident claim with an experienced Austin car accident attorney.
The Future of Distracted Driving
When autonomous vehicles start becoming more prevalent, distractions may not play as much of a role. However, distractions currently cause thousands of accidents and injuries each year. Certain people will lose their lives all because of the negligence of a distracted driver.
To avoid the risks of distracted driving, silence your phone and position it out of arm’s reach until you arrive at your destination. Avoid engaging in activities that keep you from being attentive to the road ahead.
New technology in vehicles such as lane departure and hazard alerts can limit the risk, but only behavioral shifts will put this dangerous trend to an end. Texts, phone calls, and social media alerts can wait.