Our Austin Injury Attorney Discusses Cell Phone Laws
We rely on our fellow motorists to practice safe driving habits. Dangerous accidents can happen at any time, even when drivers are devoting their complete attention to the road. If this attention lapses, and a driver is talking, texting or surfing the internet, he or she can easily lose track of what is happening on the road.
While many states have implemented strong laws that attempt to prevent the countless motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving, Texas currently has no statewide ban in place. Each legislative session, there are no proposals designed to pass new rules to restrict this dangerous behavior.
The Cost of Distracted Driving
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, some 81,000 crashes involved driver distraction, with 361 of these accidents causing fatalities in 2011. It is unknown exactly how many car and truck accidents are caused by texting or using a cell phone while driving, because not every law enforcement agency tracks this information. Police may not even ask motorists involved in the collision if they were distracted, and it may only be included on a police report if the driver mentions it.
The current laws against distracted driving only apply to a small percentage of drivers that are on Texas roadways. School bus drivers are not allowed to text while driving, and they are also prohibited from using hands-free devices while behind the wheel. Novice drivers, which the state defines as anyone 17 and under, are also not allowed to use a cell phone to make calls or text while driving.
Many communities throughout the state have enacted their own distracted driving laws. Austin has already initiated a ban on texting while driving, and also prohibits smartphone users from surfing the internet while operating a motor vehicle. The current penalty is a $500 fine and a misdemeanor charge.
Several proposals are currently under consideration that would prohibit texting while driving throughout the rest of Texas. Drivers found to be texting would receive high fines, and the fines would be substantially increased in school zones. The laws could make texting while driving a primary violation, which means that police would be able to stop motorists observed reading, composing or sending texts.
The difficulty in enforcing texting bans is one of the reasons that critics are against these proposals. Law enforcement agencies are in favor of making roadways safer, but many officials are unsure that they will be able to detect those engaging in unsafe driving behavior unless the motorist causes an accident. Conversely, those who support the ban feel that the potential penalties may be enough of a deterrent to drivers who may be thinking of texting while driving.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our Austin injury lawyer discuss your options. It is important to understand how you can protect your rights during this difficult time. Our firm will represent your case and fight aggressively to secure you compensation for your injuries. Call us at (512) 474-8346.