Two and a half years ago, an Austin driver was texting and driving on Barton Creek Boulevard when he hit a cyclist. Currently, that cyclist remains in the hospital: his spinal cord was broken in four places. The cyclist’s wife reports he will continue to be in pain for the foreseeable future.
There were no criminal charges filed against the driver who hit the cyclist. However, the cyclist’s wife filed a civil lawsuit to hopefully send a message to other drivers.
Injured Cyclist Will Feel the Effects of His Accident for the Rest of His Life
The cyclist and his wife filed a claim for monetary damages to compensate for the medical expenses and pain the cyclist received from the accident. More importantly, the couple filed a lawsuit to send a message. They believe the law needs to catch up to technology.
While the current fine for texting and driving is a $500 ticket, the victim would like the consequences for using cell phones and other devices while driving to be more severe. The cyclist’s wife insists a fine will not dissuade people from using their cell phones, however, the potential consequence of jail time would likely convince people to take the law more seriously.
The State of Texas Can Do More to Prevent Distracted Driving in the Future
A jury ultimately awarded $865,000 to the cyclist this past week to provide assistance with his injuries. Unfortunately, the jury did not find the driver who hit the cyclist to have committed “gross negligence.” In 2009, Austin became the first city to ban texting while driving. Since then, other cities have followed the example. In 2014, Texas lawmakers drafted a bill for a statewide ban on all mobile phone use while driving. However, the bill did not pass. The cyclist and his family hope that with the recent victory and publicity from the case, they can build momentum in helping raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving throughout the state.