Texas lawmakers recently passed a statewide anti-texting and driving law. The new law, which went into effect last year on September 1, bans motorists from texting while driving. Motorists who are caught by law enforcement can receive fines that range from $25 to $99. Repeat offenders can receive fines of up to $200. Advocates of the law claim it will help reduce the number of distracted driving accidents in Texas.
Austin motorists can use hands-free devices to make and receive phone calls. However, hands-free devices have become a debated issue among transportation safety officials. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), hands-free devices can distract drivers and cause accidents. The NSC claims drivers can miss up to 50 percent of what is going on around them while talking on any type of phone – including hands-free devices.
There are other critics of hands-free devices. According to researchers with the University of Utah, drivers who are engaged in conversations are more likely to make mistakes, brake later and run red lights or stop signs. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) has also found that many motorists get a false sense of security from hands-free devices. AAA’s 2014 study found that drivers who used hands-free devices had slower reaction times and higher levels of distraction.
This research should not be too surprising. It has been known for a long time that having a conversation with other passengers while driving can be distracting, especially for younger drivers. Transportation safety advocates recommend saving phone calls for once you have pulled over or reached your destination. Your focus should remain 100 percent committed to your surroundings while you are driving.
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