Texting and Driving in Texas What You Need to Know
While it’s no big deal to pick up your phone at home and send a text, doing so in a car can have disastrous consequences. Driving comes with a unique and ever-present set of risks, which are compounded when a distraction like texting is added. Nationwide, nearly 10 people are killed every day and over 1,000 more are injured because of a distracted driver, according to DMV.org. In 2015, texting while driving rose to the top of the list for leading causes of death among teenagers.
Cracking Down on Distracted Driving
To reduce the risk of accidents caused by driving while texting, and to reduce the temptation to text and drive in the first place, many states are creating laws that make texting and driving illegal. With the passage of House Bill 62 on September 1, 2017, Texas became the 47th state to ban texting and driving.
According to DMV.org, the consequences of texting while driving rival those of drinking and driving: https://www.dmv.org/distracted-driving/texting-and-driving.php. Now, anyone who is caught texting on their phones while driving a vehicle will face repercussions ranging from fines to imprisonment. Furthermore, your license can be suspended for distracted driving, and your auto insurance rates may increase. The goal of this crackdown is to start making drivers in Texas think twice before picking up their phones to send or respond to texts while they’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
HB 62 spells out the consequences that Texas drivers will face by violating the law banning texting while driving. A first-time offense carries a punishment of a fine, which is somewhere between $25 and $99. For a second offense, the fine rate jumps to somewhere between $100 and $200. There are no points assigned in a second offense. If the driver causes an accident while texting and driving, the punishment is more severe. A driver who causes an accident that kills or seriously injures another person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The driver may face a fine of up to $4,000 and get a maximum one-year prison sentence added on too. The law specifically states that it’s illegal to be caught reading, typing, and sending text messages over a wireless device while driving. It’s important to note that with this new law, the use of GPS navigation, music apps, and entering a phone number are still legal. However, police officers still have the right to pull drivers over if they’re suspected of driving and texting. The law also prohibits the use of hand-held devices in school areas. No driver age 18 or younger are allowed to send a text or make a call in the car, even when using a hands-free device. School bus drivers are also banned from texting or talking on a phone while operating a bus, even if they’re using one that is hands-free.
In addition to HB 62, more than 45 cities in Texas have imposed their own bans on cell phones designed to control texting while driving. These laws exist independently of the state-initiated ban on texting while operating a vehicle.
How Can Texting While Driving be Stopped?
Unfortunately, just because a law becomes effective doesn’t mean that drivers will stop using their phones in the car. Parents of teenage drivers may be especially concerned about their younger drivers texting on the phone while driving. Fortunately, parents can install an app on their child’s phone to make him or her drive more safely. This includes blocking incoming and outbound texts while the car is moving, sending parents notifications, and keeping track of the distance a teen has driven without having problems. Many parents choose to reward their children for going a set number of miles without having problems.
If you or a loved one have suffered the consequences of texting while driving, it’s time to contact a lawyer. A skilled lawyer will fight for justice on your behalf and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to review your case.