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The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that in 2016, one in five accidents were caused by distracted driving, leading to nearly 500 hundred deaths that year.

Distracted driving dangers include being preoccupied with mobile devices, but it covers more than just texting and driving. Scrolling through social media or picking a new streaming music station also lead drivers to be distracted, potentially costing them precious reaction time on the road.

According to the agency, drivers under the age of 20 have especially high rates of distracted driving, in fact, they account for 11 percent of all fatal crashes.

Not only does distracted driving present the danger of injury or death, there is a financial toll as well. According to Nationwide, in 2010, Americans paid $39.7 billion as a result of distracted driving crashes.

“The problem lies in the fact that there are defenses to prosecution built into the law, such as it is legal for someone to use their phone for GPS or for changing music,” Austin Police Detective Patrick Oborski told The Daily Texan. “It is very difficult for an officer to actually see what the driver is doing on their phone screen. Without a driver actually admitting that they were texting, it makes it very difficult to prosecute.”

Texas, and other states, are starting to implement bans on phone use while driving and other distracted driving dangers.

texas-roadUnder the Texas law banning texting while driving, a driver can be hit with a misdemeanor if they are found using a portable wireless communication device to read, write or sent and electronic message while operating a moving vehicle. Fines range from $99 to $200.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, cell phone usage is not the only distracted driving danger.

The agency also recommends drivers avoid the following distractions while driving:

  • Posting to social media
  • Checking email
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Reading
  • Programming a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Law enforcement officials expressed concern about the limitations of the law, however, because drivers can still check GPS or change music. Ultimately, say officials, it is up to drivers to take responsibility and avoid distracted driving dangers while on the road.

To this end, several education efforts have been made by states and even mobile device carriers. The state of Texas began a program that requires all 15 to 17-year-old drivers to watch a video on safe driving habits. AT&T has a marketing campaign that uses commercials and other advertising to target young drivers and remind them of the dangerous consequences of distracted driving.

Parents and employers must also start encouraging children and employees to stop distracted driving dangers, say Texas officials. Often, drivers believe that an accident or injury could never happen to them. But when they are wrong, the consequences of distracted driving dangers are steep and even deadly.

If you have been the victim of a distracted driver, contact an experienced attorney to help protect your legal rights. The attorneys at McDonald Worley offer a free case evaluation. Call today!