New Texas Law Aims to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents
With nearly 110,000 accidents and 455 deaths attributed to distracted driving in 2016 alone, the Lone Star state enacted a new law meant to curb the problem.
A ban on texting and other activities while driving went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1 of this year. The law is meant to curb distracted driving that has killed one person each day in Texas for the past 16 years. Under the law the following activities are banned while driving:
- Texting or otherwise posting to social media
- Viewing email
- Eating or drinking
- Brushing hair, doing make-up, shaving, etc.
- Reading or watching a video
- Playing with the radio
- Playing with maps or navigation systems
Fines for distracted driving range from $200 to $500.
While it seems like common sense to pay attention to controlling a heavy metal object moving at high speed in and around other heavy metal objects also moving at high speeds, many states have implemented similar laws. In light of the explosion of distracted driving after the advent of cell phones and other mobile devices, even cell phone carriers have campaigned for vigilance behind the wheel. AT&T’s “It Can Wait” marketing campaign focused on getting teens and young adults to become aware of the devastating consequences of cell phone distractions while driving.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the sending and receiving of text messages nearly doubled from 2009 to 2012. The agency notes that a person’s response time is doubled when sending or receiving a text message; this is equivalent to a drunk driver, says the agency. Districted driving caused almost 25 percent of all car accidents in Texas in 2012.
Texans appear to be of two minds when it comes to texting and driving. While nearly 94 percent of all Texans think that text messaging while driving is a threat to their personal safety, 23.5 percent admit to regularly texting while driving, says the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Texas Department of Transportation has also compiled a list of the Texas counties with the highest rates of distracted driving in 2016. Topping the list is Bexar County, with a total of 26,305 accidents attributed to distracted driving and 65 deaths in 2016. Following are Harris county with a total of 14,804 accidents and 15 fatalities, then Tarrant county with 8,210 accidents and 23 fatalities.
In addition to putting mobile devices away while driving, the Texas Department of Transportation also notes other actions drivers can take to make sure they and others arrive alive, including;
- Using a seatbelt
- Not speeding
- Using care while passing
- Maintaining focus on the road and taking breaks when necessary
- Never drinking then driving
If you or a loved one were in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should consider contacting an experienced attorney. In addition to the new distracted driving laws in Texas and other states, a well-versed attorney can also consider taking cell phone carriers to task for the additional dangers their products present to motorists.
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